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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, SYNDICATED RADIO COMMENTATOR; CLARENCE PAGE, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE TAPED: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2007 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 22-23, 2007

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ANNOUNCER: It's the 26th annual McLaughlin Group year-end awards, 2007. Here's the master of ceremonies, John McLaughlin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Biggest winner of 2007. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Czar Vladimir I, Mr. Putin of Russia -- most popular, powerful ruler in the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Barack Obama ends the year on a high note. Whether or not he wins the nomination almost doesn't matter. He gave up smoking. (Laughter.) MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Twelve months ago, the war looked irretrievably lost. Today it's turning around. We've been six and a half years without another terrorist attack. If we can make another 12 months, George W. Bush will be regarded very favorably by historians. He's the winner.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's the winner?

MS. CROWLEY: Winner of 2007.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How audacious can you get? (Laughter.)

MS. CROWLEY: Counterintuitive, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Well, speaking of counter, the big winner was obviously Al Gore. He won about everything you can win this year. After the Oscar and the Nobel, where do you go?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President of the world, Al Gore. (Laughter.)

The envelope please, Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Yes, dear.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I noticed you're staring at my jacket.

MS. CROWLEY: I'm blind, John. I'm blinded. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did you say about my jacket earlier?

MR. BUCHANAN: I said there's some horse at Pimlico who's freezing tonight, John, because his blanket is gone.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Doubtless a stallion. (Laughter.)

The biggest winner of 2007 -- let's see what we have here -- Russia, the nation of Russia. Russia is now a rich nation, thanks to its huge volume of oil and the record price of its oil. Its middle class is thriving. Its assertiveness is back, and so is Russia's readiness to defy the United States.

Okay, biggest loser.

MR. BUCHANAN: Who is its leader? (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've already given it to Putin.

MR. BUCHANAN: Okay. The biggest loser is the U.S. dollar. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that it?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yep.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why do you say that?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well -- (laughs) -- it's down to its lowest level ever against the Euro. It's down to the lowest level in 25, 30 years against the Canadian dollar, against the British pound. It is a manifestation of a declining nation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Doesn't that help our trade volume?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, it's going to help your exports. But is that a good way to do it, to destroy the value of your currency?

MS. CLIFT: Okay.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: This is not the year in the economy, I don't think. (Laughs.) Biggest loser: Alberto Gonzales. He lived the life of the American dream and had to resign as attorney general in disgrace.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Biggest loser: Eliot Spitzer. He went from a landslide to a mudslide.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's he polling at?

MS. CROWLEY: Twenty-seven percent. He won 12 months ago with 70 percent of the vote.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: You know, it was a tough competition, John. I was going to give it to Britney Spears. It was not the best of years for her. But I had to give it to John McCain for making such a big slide. He's still got a chance to pull it out by the new year, you know, and you never want to write anybody off. But it's been surprising.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Britney had her moments too.

MR. PAGE: She had her -- we'll have to count all three of them, I guess. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll talk about that later.

The biggest loser of 2007, as Eleanor said, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. He lost his job. He lost his reputation by allowing the Justice Department to be shanghaied by conservative wing nuts. MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Best politician.

MR. BUCHANAN: I've got to give it to Mike Huckabee, who went from nowhere to front-runner for the Republican nomination.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I give it to Arnold Schwarzenegger, who handled the fires in California like a maestro. He really showed how an elected leader can handle disaster in this country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to see the Constitution amended to permit Schwarzenegger to run for president?

MS. CLIFT: I'm not going to go that far, but I like a lot of what he's done on stem cell research and on really -- he's become a Democrat in California. That's why he's doing so well.

MS. CROWLEY: I agree. I'm giving the same award for best politician to Arnold Schwarzenegger, for a different reason -- because he's done the impossible. He's taken the California Democratic Party and made it invisible.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By sacrificing his own credential as a Republican.

MS. CROWLEY: Republican in name only, but he's still a Republican.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: (It ?) was doing pretty good beforehand, I think. But, you know, Huckabee and Obama both did a great job here toward the end of the year of pulling their numbers around. But I have to hand some props to Tom Tancredo. I thought he was a crackpot initially when he was saying that, you know, if you want to get your issue out there in front, you've got to run for president. But, you know, this immigration issue has definitely risen on the scale. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best politician of 2007: Senator Barack Obama. He announced 10 months ago, in February '07. His rise from a back bencher to a political celebrity has been meteoric, seldom seen on the American scene. Win or lose in Iowa, Obama has staked out his place as a long-term national political player.

Okay, worst politician, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's a collective award. The Congress of the United States came in with enormous momentum. It was going to change everything. It is now down to 11 percent approval. The award is accepted by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid together. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Worst politician: Fred Thompson. He came in, ballyhooed as the second coming of Ronald Reagan, and he let the golden moment pass.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about his ratings, polling?

MS. CLIFT: His ratings are not doing well, but now he's going to spend the rest of the year in Iowa in the hopes that he will be everybody's second choice and can stage a surprise showing there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Worst politician: Hugo Chavez. How bad a dictator do you have to be to lose your own rigged election? (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: That's pretty good. Well, you beat me to Fred Thompson.

MS. CLIFT: Okay.

MR. PAGE: You know, but also Joe Biden, bless his heart; I mean, a foreign policy expert par excellence at a time when that's really the important issue. Somehow he hasn't been able to get it off the ground.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst politician: George W. Bush. His approval rating has stayed mired in the low 30s. And with Iraq, he has set up the Republican Party for major losses in '08.

Okay, the most defining political moment. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: The testimony of General David Petraeus before the Congress of the United States, which bought George Bush another year. And his actions in there in this plan, John, have given the United States what looks like a military -- something approaching a military victory in Iraq. But his testimony turned it around. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated as your choice.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Obama's speech at the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in Iowa, which came on the heels of Hillary Clinton's flubbing question about immigration in a debate, and basically changed the dynamics of the race.

On the Republican side, it's Huckabee coming in second in Iowa in the straw poll in August.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: On that Democratic debate stage in Philadelphia, we saw for the first time that the empress has no clothes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's that?

MS. CROWLEY: Hillary Clinton, when she faltered on the immigration question.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: The most defining political moment, John, was when Rudolph Giuliani got a phone call from his wife in the middle of a speech and he took the call.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it a calculated event? In other words, was it set up?

MR. BUCHANAN: It may well have been calculated.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What was he trying to show? He appeared before the National Rifle Association. Was he trying to give the finger to the National Rifle Association, so to speak?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no.

MR. PAGE: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was he trying to say --

MR. BUCHANAN: He was showing, "My wife and I are in love. We talk constantly."

MS. CLIFT: Family values.

MR. PAGE: There you go. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most defining political moment: The Minneapolis I-35 bridge collapse. That catastrophe defined the infrastructure throughout the United States for what it is -- disastrously deficient; roads, bridges, pipelines, electrical grid, sanitation systems, et cetera.

Okay, turncoat of the year, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: F. David Radler, who was a partner of Lord Black; rats him out, turns state's evidence. Lord Black is going to be giving up his peership and headed to the penitentiary.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Six and a half years.

MR. BUCHANAN: Six and a half years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Trent Lott wins re-election, gets elected to a leadership post by his party, overcomes the negative fallout from having been associated with approving segregation at a Strom Thurmond birthday party, and he up and says he's resigning so he can go make money -- turncoat.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: David Geffen -- once a best friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, frequent Lincoln Bedroom guest, tells The New York Times this year that the Clintons lie with such ease, it's troubling.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: I have a tie, John, between Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani -- Mitt Romney for turning against the pro-choice movement and a couple of others as well, and Giuliani for turning against illegal immigrants in his own city.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Turncoat of the year: Yahoo.com CEO Jerry Yang. He was denounced in a congressional hearing for helping the Chinese government identify Chinese democratic activists. Congressman Lantos called him, with understatement, a "moral pygmy."

Okay, most boring, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Greenspan-Lieberman trophy, John, this year goes to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Collective award to the Bush Cabinet. It is invisible. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: I'm going with Britney Spears. She's lowered our collective IQ by 20 points this year. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: She's exciting. Just the coverage is boring. (Laughs.)

Most boring? I fell asleep while going over the nominees for this category, but Fred Thompson won.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most boring: A diplomat of South Korea, Ban Ki- moon. Moon also happens to be secretary general of the United Nations, and he has held that role for a full year. Moon is so boring, few know who he is. Most people think the head of the U.N. is still Kofi Annan.

Okay, most charismatic, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Oprah-Obama, dancing with the stars.

MS. CLIFT: Right. Oprah -- Oprah palooza. She turned a political rally into a happening. Nobody measures on the celebrity scale --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that'll last? Do you think that will endure?

MS. CLIFT: The Obama campaign captured the data from everybody who went to those rallies. If they get just a small portion of them to vote, that's a winning number.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: George Clooney. I can't help it. I pick him every year. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Well, you can't beat Oprah and Obama, of course. But a close runner-up is Ron Paul; surprising me at the movement he's generated, mostly among the Internet geeks.

MR. BUCHANAN: Charismatic? (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you're close, but --

MR. BUCHANAN: Charismatic?

MR. PAGE: Yeah. The charismatic Ron Paul. MR. BUCHANAN: I've got another award, but charismatic?

MR. PAGE: You haven't talked to his followers. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most charismatic, sorry, is the dalai lama. His endearing charisma was for everyone to see during the Capitol Hill ceremony awarding him the Congressional Gold Medal.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bummest rap, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The lynching of Don Imus.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he's back, and I predicted he'd be back in December. He came back.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah. You weren't any help in the crisis, John.

MR. PAGE: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He said on air -- what did he say on air? He likes McLaughlin?

MS. CROWLEY: He loves John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He called me crazy.

MS. CROWLEY: He told me this week on the air -- he's crazy and he loves him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Bummest rap -- that Barack Obama has this secret Muslim past. Bum rap.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bum rap. Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Bummest rap: That a Mormon should not be president. They didn't say that about George Romney or Mo Udall when he ran. They shouldn't be saying it now.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you told Lawrence, Lawrence O'Donnell?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CROWLEY: No, I have not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Well, Eleanor, you beat me to it again.

MS. CLIFT: Okay.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly. MR. PAGE: No, the bum rap is this alleged and false Muslim background of Barack Obama. And it's just gotten all over the Internet.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bummest rap is Iran and the nuclear bomb rap against it. It turns out that Iran wants nuclear power for electricity, not for the bomb. Why? Because its economy -- and I reported on this; I went over to Tehran -- its economy is tanking. They want to sell their oil, not burn it, especially in their outdated cars. You should see those.

They ration their gas, by the way.

Okay. Fairest rap, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The fairest rap, John, is the forced departure of Al Gonzales, sadly, from Justice. He deserved it. He's a nice guy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we've already mentioned that twice.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, but that's the fairest rap was that he had to go; the ouster of Al Gonzales.

MS. CLIFT: I don't remember you championing him staying at the time, but --

MR. BUCHANAN: No, but I think it's the fairest rap. He had to go.

MS. CLIFT: Right. Okay.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thanks for all the time you put into preparing your answer. (Laughter.)

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Fairest rap: Rudy Giuliani, on almost any issue -- taxpayer-funded security for his girlfriend, refusal to release his client list, bad judgment on Bernie Kerik, whatever; you name it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We got the picture.

MS. CLIFT: Okay. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Fairest rap: U.S. senators rarely become successful presidents. In fact, they rarely become U.S. presidents.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Fairest rap is Michael Moore's rap against the insurance industry. It's about time somebody got the other word out. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Contrary to Buchanan, the fairest rap is global warming, contrary to you in an earlier program, or programs. The science is in, the evidence is in, and the rap is serious.

Okay, best --

MR. BUCHANAN: Hold it, hold it. Pope Benedict, just today, or last week, John, said that was ridiculous. (Laughter.) I hope you're listening.

MR. PAGE: So there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was not ex cathedra. That's not going to make or break you as a Catholic accepting that.

Okay, best comeback.

MR. BUCHANAN: No doubt about it; it's Al Gore. He got the Nobel prize. He got the Academy Award. He's the king of the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I give it to Jenna Bush -- no more party girl. She's written a serious and compassionate book about a single mother battling AIDS. And she's getting married and she says she doesn't want a White House wedding. This girl is really asserting herself.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've read the book?

MS. CLIFT: I can't say I've read the book, but I've seen the publicity. And I think she's handled herself really well.

MS. CROWLEY: That was a great pick, Eleanor.

I choose Martha Stewart. She left jail, went home, made cookies and made more millions.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Very good.

Clarence.

MR. PAGE: I give the best comeback to Don Imus. He served his penance out there. He's back on the air, like most shock jocks usually are. And he will, I'm sure, behave himself for two or three weeks -- (laughs) -- or he'll be in trouble again.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He apologized again to those young ladies.

MR. PAGE: Oh, the man apologizes profusely every which way, as he should.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best comeback: Return of the Latin language to the Catholic mass, promoted by Buchanan -- MR. BUCHANAN: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and his favorite pope, Benedict XVI.

Okay. Most original thinker, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones has a resolution in the House and -- what do you call him -- Ron Paul and others are behind it, to take back for the Congress of the United States their constitutional power to determine whether we go to war and to take it back from the decider.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you approve of that?

MR. BUCHANAN: I certainly do. It's constitutional.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, enforcing the Constitution, that old document?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, that ancient document, right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Bush will be gone back to Texas before anything happens to that piece of legislation. But I give my original thinker to Senator Joe Biden, who is still the only person out there with a serious plan for what happens to Iraq, and that is a loose confederation -- not exactly partitioned, but close to it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Hillary Clinton for her innovative concept that she was responsible for all of the successes of the Clinton co-presidency and none of its failures.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: I've got to give most original thinker to Bill Cosby. His ideas aren't original but his salesmanship has worked to get it out there on the front burner. And it takes a media person to counteract the negative images and messages that the media put out.

MR. BUCHANAN: Hear, hear.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he's got the personality to do it.

MR. PAGE: Yep.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most original thinker: J.K. Rowling, the brain behind Harry Potter, with her $1.1 billion of wealth.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's her seventh book, John. That's old. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And sitting on top of a $15 billion Harry Potter money machine.

Okay. Most stagnant thinker, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Norman Podhoretz, John -- Norman Podhoretz. He goes --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's he saying?

MR. BUCHANAN: He prays every night that Bush will bomb Iran, even after the NIE. And he said the weapons of mass destruction were taken out of Iraq and buried in Syria.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll have to send him my statement about Iran.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I think Pat's just unhappy because Dumbledore is gay. That's why he doesn't want to give it to J.K. Rowling.

Stagnant thinker: Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, who refuses to accept the consensus of the intelligence community that Iran really isn't working on a nuclear bomb; wants to continue with his bellicose approach to Iran.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you like my selection of J.K. Rowling?

MS. CLIFT: I liked it, yes, very much.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Good. Pick up for me.

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Teddy Kennedy. He hasn't changed one syllable since the summer of love.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he keeps being re-elected and re-elected.

MS. CROWLEY: Yes. (Laughs.) And now he's getting paid $10 million for his memoir.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence. MS. CLIFT: A lot of people don't agree with you on that one, Monica. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: My turn, my turn.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. PAGE: Most stagnant thinker -- tough category; once again a lot of competitors. I've got to give it to President Musharraf; I mean, get in trouble -- lock up the lawyers and the journalists; you know, old idea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most stagnant thinker: U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, especially during the two and a half hours he served as acting president when President Bush was underdoing a colonoscopy. You got the picture?

Okay. Best photo-op, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: George -- I mean, not George Romney -- Mitt Romney and George H.W. Bush moving to the podium of the Bush presidential library. It was a moment that you captured last week, John, and I think even Larry O'Donnell would say this was a great moment.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Al Gore and President Bush gripping and grinning after a 40-minute discussion on global warming in the Oval Office.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What was that all about? Was it real?

MS. CLIFT: I hope it was real.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, what were they grinning about?

MS. CLIFT: Well, because the president received all the Nobel laureates, and Al Gore was one of them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Lindsay Lohan sleeping it off in her convertible Roadster after a close encounter with a palm tree on Sunset Boulevard.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence. I saw that picture.

MR. PAGE: My favorite photo-op -- and anyone who saw it would have to agree -- it was George Bush hosting the West African dance troupe in the Rose Garden and breaking into a little "getting jiggy" dance there. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The best photo-op: The Russians videotaping and then televising the planting of the Russian flag 14,000 feet, almost three miles, beneath the surface of the North Pole on the ocean floor, oozing with oil.

"Enough, already" award, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Joran van der Sloot and the Calpo brothers from Aruba.

MS. CLIFT: Amen.

MR. BUCHANAN: If you watch cable TV, John, it's that criminal case. They keep bringing these clowns back on that killing of that gal down there from Alabama, the Holloway girl.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. (Laughter.) I wish them --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible) -- three years ago.

MS. CLIFT: I wish all these young women well, and I hope they all get their act together next year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: "Enough, already" award: Fidel Castro and his nine lives. It's enough, already. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Eleanor did it again. They're Paris, Britney, Lindsay, et cetera, et cetera.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The "Enough, already" -- Britney Spears --

MR. PAGE: You too. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- for several recent reasons.

Okay. Worst lie, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Worst lie -- you mean the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fabrication.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yep. Well, let me check, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you need your notes there, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: -- because you skipped out of your -- worst lie? My goodness. Oh, worst lie. Worst lie -- here you go, John. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to jump in here, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I'll help. I'll help.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst lie: "This bill is not amnesty" by McCain and George Bush, just as the amnesty was sunk by the whole American nation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Amnesty is something for nothing, and people have to go through a lot of hoops in order to get that amnesty.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, the George Bush plan.

MS. CLIFT: Worst lie: "We don't torture."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Worst lie: "I have a wide stance."

MR. PAGE: Ooh. (Laughs.) Who could forget it?

MS. CROWLEY: It's an instant classic.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I get the picture.

Clarence.

MR. PAGE: The worst lie that wasn't just nincompoopery was "Yes, sir, we've checked this bomber and there are no nukes aboard. You can fly it across the country." (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst lie is this: "America's health care system is the best in the world." It's not. It's the world's costliest system, but we lag behind several other national health care systems, notably the Brits, who deliver better health care outcomes than the United States. You didn't know that, did you?

MR. BUCHANAN: Do you go to Britain for your care, John?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I don't go to Britain for my care.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I go to Britain for that wonderful architecture, Pat. I was there this year. Okay. Capitalist of the year. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Warren Buffett. He created two funds that bet against the dollar, and both of them are soaring.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Ron Paul. In one 24-hour period, he raised $4 million over the Internet; didn't even know what to do with it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Michael Bloomberg. He is the wealthiest American to ever hold public office, and he's been coyly playing with introducing $1 billion of his own money for an independent run for the White House.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's he going to do?

MS. CROWLEY: I think he's going to wait until February 6th, the morning of February 6th, and he will see if there's an opening for him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He definitely wants the job.

MS. CROWLEY: I think he wants the job. I don't think he wants to have to go through all the michigasse (sp) to get there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mmm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)

Clarence.

MR. PAGE: A young man you're going to be hearing about, John, I think -- 17-year-old Davik Dochy (sp), who won an award this year for coming up with a way to form a business recycling those little plastic shampoo bottles that we throw away in hotel rooms. It's on the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's a lesson there for all of us.

MR. PAGE: Invest now.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Capitalist of the year: Carlos Slim, businessman from -- get this -- Mexico, okay, with his $68 billion -- 68 -- at least $10 billion more than the envious Bill Gates.

Honorable mention. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, I think we've got to give it to Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France. He won a great victory. He's extraordinarily popular. He's taken France, turned it away from Chirac's sort of skepticism and hostility toward America, become one of the best friends of George Bush, and put France firmly, I think, in the American orbit, if you will, and very supportive of virtually everything we ask. We got ourselves a new Tony Blair, and he's French. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he acts French --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, he --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- or talks French?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, he's Hungarian. He was Hungarian-born, and you can see that there. But, yeah. But I think he's really -- he's pro-American.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's a vulgarian?

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't want to go there, John. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Some of the French think he's a vulgarian.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think they've got a point.

MR. PAGE: Vulgarian, not Bulgarian.

MR. BUCHANAN: I mean, he's a very --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "V" as in "victor."

MR. BUCHANAN: He's not an aristocrat; there's no doubt about it. He's a middle-class working man of the people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that exactly what France needs?

MR. BUCHANAN: They do need it, because they need a tough man because of the problems in the banlieues.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Look, the French have a long history of supporting Americans. And being George W. Bush's best friend isn't going to get him very far.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's your selection, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: But I think he is a good selection.

My selection is Elizabeth Edwards. Clarence singled out all the spouses, but I think she deserves a special commendation. She is soldiering on. She has found a cause, you know, bigger than herself. And she's an inspiration to a lot of people who are living with cancer.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A super lady. Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Mitt Romney. Twelve months ago he was an unknown governor out of the Northeast, coming out of the people's republic of Massachusetts. And now he's the best positioned to win the Republican nomination.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you predicting that?

MS. CROWLEY: Yes.

MR. PAGE: Rupert Murdoch. I never thought I'd say this, but -- (laughs) --

MR. BUCHANAN: Did he buy your paper, Clarence?

MR. PAGE: (Laughs.) No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you running a column with him?

MR. PAGE: Everybody's stuff is for sale these days. But, no, he wants to take The Wall Street Journal's website and make it free, which I think is a great idea and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, we're racing here now.

Honorable mention: "Who" gets the award? That's right -- Hu, Hu Jintao. (Laughter.) Over the past five years, Hu has presided over the capitalist transformation of China, the most epochal event of the past 100 years.

Here it is. You've been waiting for this. Person of the year.

MR. BUCHANAN: I really think it's General David Petraeus. I don't know anyone who's had more impact. I mean, he rolled the Congress when he came up with his testimony. They provided all the money that the president demanded. His plan is working, at least militarily, in Iraq. He's bought the president another year. I don't know who did more.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I give it to Al Gore, who single-handedly created a global consensus that climate change is real. And Australian President John Howard lost the election in part because he refused to meet with Al Gore when he was visiting down under. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Barack Obama. He went from the back of the pack to the front of the pack in 11 months. No one saw it coming. He's a political sex symbol for the YouTube generation. And if the Democratic nominee loses next year, he will take over from Bill Clinton as the leader of the Democratic Party.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Well, you got mine, so I'm going to nominate all the spouses of all the presidential candidates this year; more power to them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They're great.

MR. PAGE: They are.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The person of the year: Ron Paul, the physician-politician. He injected the presidential campaign with a dose of truth serum. Paul's straight talk on Iraq and his straight talk on the Constitution, as Buchanan pointed out, and the limits of government, have made him an Internet phenomenon. In fact, Paul has become an independent force in the nation's life.

Next week: McLaughlin Group 2007 awards, part two.

Merry Christmas. Bye-bye.

END.