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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, SYNDICATED RADIO COMMENTATOR; MICHELLE BERNARD, INDEPENDENT WOMEN'S FORUM TAPED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 8, 2008 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF AUGUST 9-10, 2008

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DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: It's War -- Russia-Georgia.

The long-simmering conflict between Russia and Georgia erupted into war on Friday. Georgian forces attacked Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia, a region on the center-north border separating Russia from Georgia. It resulted in heavy civilian casualties.

Russian President Medvedev responded by bombing military bases inside Georgia proper. He ordered two battalions of troops and columns of tanks to roll into the disputed region. Meanwhile, the president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, is appealing to its allies, especially the United States, to help him and help his state. MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI (president of Georgia): (From videotape, through interpreter.) I want to declare, so the whole world can hear me, a large-scale aggression is being carried out against Georgia in recent minutes, in recent hours. The Russian Federation has bombed Georgian territory in populated areas, and peaceful areas have been bombed. It's nothing else but a classic international aggression.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Russian President Dimitry Medvedev issued this assurance and this warning. Quote: "We cannot allow the deaths of our countrymen to go unpunished. The guilty parties will receive the punishment they deserve. I am obliged to protect the lives and dignity of Russian citizens, no matter where they are located," unquote.

Speaking before the U.N. Security Council, Rosemary DiCarlo, U.S. envoy to the U.N., called on Russia to cease its military counteraction.

ROSEMARY DICARLO (U.S. envoy to the U.N. Security Council): (From videotape.) Mr. President, we call on all parties to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Georgia. We also call on Russia to pull its troops back and not inflame the situation by sending its forces to Georgia.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: And finally, in Beijing, attending the Olympics, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin lamented the crisis and promised retaliation.

VLADIMIR PUTIN (prime minister of Russia): (From videotape, through interpreter.) It's a great pity that this has happened during the opening of the Olympic Games, which has always been the day when the guns went silent. But the Georgian leadership have resorted to very aggressive actions against South Ossetia. They practically started a military operation, using all kinds of heavy armor, artillery and tanks. There are casualties, including among Russian peacekeepers. This is very sad and a worrying development, which of course we will have to respond to.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: How serious is this matter? And give us some idea of the geography. What are we talking about?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, you're talking about Georgia, which is the birthplace of Stalin. It's basically in the central Caucasus, sort of north of Armenia and Azerbaijan, and to the north of it is Russia. It broke away in 1991 with all the other 14 or so Soviet republics.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let me interrupt you. Those are three small countries. They're on the southern border. They run between the Caspian, on one side, and the Black Sea on the other.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Black Sea. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Georgia is on the Black Sea. And to the right of Georgia is Azerbaijan. And underneath Georgia, so to speak, is Armenia. They're clustered together. Now go ahead.

MR. BUCHANAN: To the north is two breakaway provinces, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the one we're talking about. It appears that Georgia moved into South Ossetia, which has been broken away for about -- since 1993 or '94 -- and tried to take it back. And they've killed some Russians, and the Russians are moving in there in force.

Now, the real questions, John, are -- there were 1,000 American troops in that base in Georgia in mid-July. The questions this raises is, did Georgia clear this with the White House, with Bush? Did Bush give them a green light to do this? And the real problem here is that Georgia and Ukraine -- Bush and Cheney and McCain have been trying to bring them into NATO. Had they been on the road to NATO membership, this would be a military confrontation almost between Russia and the United States of America.

America's objective ought to be to stop this battling. But I'll tell you this. Since Georgia appears to have started it, I think they're going to lose South Ossetia for good.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: An interesting wrinkle here; since I was there, I heard that John McCain spent quite a bit of time in Georgia.

MR. BUCHANAN: He has been in -- he's up there -- he is in favor of Georgia getting back the breakaway provinces. To me, it is none of our business. It certainly is not worth a confrontation with another nuclear power.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, this is occurring at the same time as the Olympics. Is there any suggestion that it was a calculated move on anyone's part -- for example, possibly Saakashvili?

MS. CLIFT: Well, to follow up on what Pat said, one of John McCain's top advisers is the lobbyist in Washington for Georgia. And the administration -- we are allied with the democratic government in Georgia. This breakaway province was once a wonderful resort area, but it's been starved because they want to break away, but they have been supported by the Russians.

This is basically a little proxy war that's going on. And I agree that we have no business getting into it in any kind of active way. And the role so far, I think, is to try to get both sides to step down. But the coincidence with the Olympics -- it reminds one of Afghanistan, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. That wasn't certainly during the Olympics, but it prompted President Carter to boycott the Olympics.

And then the Soviet Union was reaching into the outermost part of its sphere of influence. Now they're reduced -- they've been cut back so much, they're reduced to trying to protect a breakaway province in an area that was once under Soviet control. And this is about Russian pride and it's about energy. There's a big pipeline going through this area.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's talk about the pipeline. As a matter of fact, I think we have a graphic of where the pipeline flows. As can be seen, I think, on the right-hand side of the screen, as you look at it, is Baku. That's Azerbaijan, and that is on the Caspian. The pipeline develops there and it goes through Azerbaijan, over through Georgia, down to Ceyhan in Turkey on the extreme left bottom, empties out there, and delivers 1 million gallons per day that is then brought to the United States.

MR. BUCHANAN: It was dynamited yesterday in Turkey, that exact pipeline.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MR. BUCHANAN: Blown up, exactly -- two-week delay in getting it back.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it travels through Azerbaijan, then Georgia, then down through Turkey. So that Georgia section is important, particularly if they're dropping bombs on four military installations from the Russian bombers there.

MS. CROWLEY: Right.

The guns of August, here we go. Look, the point is that the Georgian republic is an ally of the United States. They have a very pro-western leader in there. They've got 2,000 troops in Iraq, which makes them the third-largest contribution to coalition forces behind the United States and Great Britain. So when Pat says this is none of our business, it actually is our business. It does have to do with energy.

And Eleanor is absolutely right. You showed the pipeline. When the Russians go in and start bombing a military base within the confines of Georgia, where the United States had over 1,000 Marines and soldiers there just last month training the Georgian military in combat tactics so that they can support themselves against this kind of Russian aggression, it does become America's business.

MS. BERNARD: I absolutely agree. And it's America's business also to the extent that we have Americans living within that country. And I think we need to remember that South Ossetia is not recognized as a separate country by most of the international community. Most of the people that live in that country -- or, quote-unquote, "country," I should say -- hold Russian passports.

And this could be viewed as something that is taking place during the Olympics so that a lot of people around the world are not necessarily paying attention to it, which is another reason why it's so important that we're talking about this today.

But, you know, this could -- it would appear that the Russians are looking at this as a way to move into Georgia. I mean, we really don't know if Georgia actually, in fact, has started this and who threw the first bomb.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: What's the worst scenario here? And could it involve the United States in a war with Russia?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think the worst scenario is -- well, the probable scenario I see is I think the Russians are going to beat them, because they've got armor and they've got aircraft.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, there will be a full-scale war between Georgia and Russia. MR. BUCHANAN: No, I think Georgia will have to back down. They can't beat them. But in that case, what happens is everybody looks, because of what we're hearing here, everybody looks to the United States of America. "You guys were going to bring Georgia into NATO, and now Georgia has been humiliated and defeated. And what are you, Mr. George Bush and Mr. John McCain, going to do about it?" That's the --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Georgia is an ally --

MR. BUCHANAN: It is not an ally of the United States.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: It is not?

MS. CROWLEY: It is.

MS. BERNARD: It is.

MR. BUCHANAN: It is not a formal ally.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: It is with us in Iraq.

MR. BUCHANAN: We have no treaty agreement to fight on behalf of Georgia.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is true. There is none.

MS. CLIFT: Well --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the president stopped there, somewhat mysteriously, on one of his recent trips in that region.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, we have been very provocative, quite frankly, in my judgment, in pushing NATO into Russia's face. And you're getting payback.

MS. CLIFT: Right. This is where I agree with Pat. I think the Clinton administration and the Bush administration has been unnecessarily in Russia's face, trying to gather all of these former Soviet republics not only into the western sphere, but into NATO itself.

And knowing Russia's history and how paranoic they are, I mean, we are flirting, I think, unnecessarily with danger. And I think that is going to play out on the campaign trail. John McCain is hawkish. He has wanted to kick out Russia from the G8. Barack Obama is counseling diplomacy. And, you know, I would hope the American people would like to listen to the diplomatic thoughts, but often we respond to the war drums.

MS. CROWLEY: You know -- DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You understand there's a lot of intrigue built into your somewhat complicated answer. There's a lot of intrigue, potential intrigue --

MS. CLIFT: Oh, absolutely.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- particularly the McCain thing. He spends a lot of time over there.

MS. CROWLEY: Well, can I just address a point that Eleanor and Pat both agree on, which is that the United States is responsible for unnecessary provocations on Russia? Russia has been provoking in every corner of the world. Every state-based threat that the United States faces, from Iran to North Korea, Venezuela and Syria -- the list goes on -- is backed by Russia.

MS. BERNARD: And may I say, I agree with you. (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, wait a minute. Let's clarify this.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two Russian planes were shot down by the --

MR. BUCHANAN: Georgians.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Georgians from Ossetia, and that provoked the response of Medvedev.

MR. BUCHANAN: They invaded -- look, why doesn't Russia have a right to its own Monroe Doctrine? If we had Russians in Mexico right now --

MS. CROWLEY: Pat --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why can't they just maintain the status quo?

MR. BUCHANAN: They should have left it alone. Why didn't they leave it alone?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why did they decide to shoot down the planes? Why did Georgia decide to shoot down the planes --

MR. BUCHANAN: Georgia invaded --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- when the Olympics are occurring?

MR. BUCHANAN: They invaded, and the planes were probably attacking them when they shot them down. But Georgia provoked this, from everything we've read.

MS. CROWLEY: But why does that justify the Russians invading -- MR. BUCHANAN: Because they --

MS. BERNARD: Why were they there? Why were they there?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is going back 20 years.

MS. CROWLEY: Look, at the end of the Cold War, the Russians turned from a communist dictatorship into an authoritarian oligarchy, but their expansionist tendencies never stopped. And you can see it now. When we talk about --

MS. CLIFT: Expansionist? They don't have anything.

(Cross-talk.)

MS. BERNARD: Why were the Russians there? If the Russians --

MR. BUCHANAN: We don't have a thousand Russian marines in Baja.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me hear from Michelle. All right, quiet.

MS. BERNARD: My question is, if the Russians were flying over Georgian territory, why does Georgia not have a right to defend its borders and shoot those planes down?

MR. BUCHANAN: Because what does Abkhazia -- by what right did Georgia own South Ossetia? They're a country for one or two years.

South Ossetia is --

(Cross-talk.)

MS. BERNARD: It's not -- no. North Ossetia --

MR. BUCHANAN: North Ossetia is in Russia.

MS. BERNARD: North Ossetia is in Russia, but South Ossetia, where the planes were shot down, is in Georgia. Why were the Russians there?

MR. BUCHANAN: By what right?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you feel that we're going to go to war with Russia over this matter?

MS. CLIFT: I would hope not, no.

MS. BERNARD: We don't have any troops to go fight a war with Russia. Diplomacy will win.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So we're not going to come to the defense of our, quote-unquote, "ally," de facto ally.

MS. CLIFT: No. And Pat is right. The Russians have military power --

MR. BUCHANAN: We will back down.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: We will back down.

MR. BUCHANAN: Bush will back down.

MS. CROWLEY: We will put diplomatic pressure on the Russians to back off.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Buffalo Gals.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ, presumptive Republican presidential nominee): (From videotape.) I encourage Cindy to compete. (Cheers, applause.) I told her, with a little luck, she could be the only woman ever to serve as both first lady and Ms. Buffalo Chip. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The 68th annual Buffalo Chip motorcyclist rally this week in Sturgis, South Dakota was a campaign stop for Senator John McCain. Bikers showed their support by revving their engines. Then there's Miss Buffalo Chip, a beauty contest to crown the 2008 chip.

Not everyone thinks that John McCain's jocose suggestion that his wife become the new title-holder was a good political move; notably Kim Gandy, president of NOW, the National Organization of Women, who said this about McCain. Quote: "Maybe he figures that the frat-boy routine worked for George Bush, so he's trying the same thing. But I'm not sure that this is going to play very well with the audience he's courting." ESPN adds this to the description of the Miss Buffalo Chip contest. Quote: "Essentially a topless beauty pageant, and occasionally bottomless too," unquote.

Question: By campaigning in Sturgis, did John McCain strike a populist chord? I ask you.

MS. BERNARD: (Laughs.) I think John McCain was just having fun. And I think all of the reports I have read show that he was not there very long. It was a very quick stop, and he kept on going.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You head up the Independent Women's what, Association?

MS. BERNARD: Independent Women's Forum.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forum. And NOW -- you heard what the NOW head had to say. Do you know her?

MS. BERNARD: I know Kim Gandy personally. I like Kim Gandy. But Kim and I disagree on almost everything.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You disagree on the point that she's taken here.

MS. BERNARD: Yeah, I do. I think anybody who takes a look at that clip realizes that he was just having fun. And the closest we will ever see Cindy McCain coming to going in a topless or bottomless beauty pageant was the denim T-shirt that we just saw her wearing and her black jeans. He was having fun. And what was more interesting than anything else is the rousing applause he got from the crowd. He was the celebrity this week. Last week it was Barack Obama.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, we've been talking on this for NOW, N-O-W, National Organization for Women, for many, many years, many years -- over two decades. Okay? But it seems to have somewhat slipped from view. Is that because of a change in the lineup in the -- not the strategy -- in the layers of femininity at feminine organizations since she came on the scene? MS. BERNARD: Well, I call -- and I do this in jest, but sort of seriousness with Kim Gandy -- and I refer to the National Organization of Women as the National Organization for Some Women. So, for example, you saw NOW and other really left-of-center women's groups that really supported Anita Hill when she was having her problems with Justice Thomas.

However, when we saw Garry Trudeau making fun of Condoleezza Rice in The Washington Post in his syndicated column and referring to her as "Brown Sugar" and insinuating that she was having an affair with President Bush, left-of-center groups like the National Organization for Women and Feminist Majority were completely silent.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where are we now as far as current women are concerned?

MS. BERNARD: Well, we have gone from second-wave feminism to third-wave feminism. And what most women will tell you today is that there is a difference -- second-wave feminism being what happened in the 1960s, 1970s, and maybe even in the late 1980s; third-wave feminism, by a lot of feminist authors, refers to what we have seen in the feminist movement since the 1990s, and it's very different.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How would you describe the feminism of Eleanor Clift?

MS. BERNARD: (Laughs.) I don't know --

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?

MS. BERNARD: I will --

MS. CLIFT: I said --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know what she's talking about?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, she heads the Independent Women's Forum, which is basically conservative women.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that true?

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MS. BERNARD: We are right-of-center, free-market women. We believe in free markets, personal responsibility, limited government.

MS. CLIFT: I'm for all of those things too, by the way.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where are you now? Are you in fourth level, or wherever she described it? MS. BERNARD: Third-wave feminism.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Third-wave feminism.

MS. CLIFT: You know, the feminist movement, as it was defined in the '60s and '70s, that was a long time ago. And just as the civil rights era has moved past where it was, so has feminism. But I think, you know, feminists still want a Supreme Court that upholds Roe v. Wade.

MR. BUCHANAN: I still --

MS. CLIFT: I don't know where you are on that, but that is still a defining issue for many women.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, I'm still back at Consciousness I. (Laughter.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where's the Paleontological Era? (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: And I'm admitting --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where are you? Quickly, quickly.

MS. CROWLEY: I consider myself a feminist, but in this sort of post-feminist description that Michelle laid out. And I think, you know, when Hillary Clinton was sort of complaining after the nomination was wrapped up for Barack Obama that she had been largely a victim of sexism, I think, in some respects, that was true on Hillary Clinton.

But one of the reasons why it didn't gain traction is that Hillary was one of the final two finalists for the nomination of a major political party. We have had women on the U.S. Supreme Court for a long time, female secretaries of State. And I don't think it has the same resonance among the American people --

MR. BUCHANAN: Women feel she was treated badly, though.

MS. CROWLEY: -- as it once did.

MR. BUCHANAN: Women feel she was treated very badly --

MS. BERNARD: Not all women.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- as a woman. Not all women. But I think there was some of that stuff in there; not as much as the Clintons say.

MS. CLIFT: There were sexist episodes, but that's not why she lost. But I think what Clinton supporters really resented is the fact that the media seemed to regard the possibility of a biracial man as more historic than the possibility of a woman as president.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: A Quick Look at the Polls.

New polls out this week. AP-Ipsos: Obama leads -- Obama, 47 percent; McCain, 41 percent. Also McCain leads by 10 points among whites. And among men, the two candidates are tied.

Zogby's new poll: McCain leads overall -- McCain, 42 percent; Obama, 41 percent.

Give me a quick impression.

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama's lost some ground, but McCain still can't get to 45 percent. I think Obama is ahead nationally four or five points. In states, he's probably ahead --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor. MS. CLIFT: He's ahead in the electoral count. And I think the Obama number is his floor and I think the McCain number is his ceiling.

MS. CROWLEY: I think the bloom is a little bit off the Obama rose. The more people get to know him, the more uneasy they are with his liberal politics and with his inexperience.

MS. BERNARD: That's interesting, because I think it's going to be a very close election. I think Senator Obama is ahead of John McCain now. But, that being said, it is going to be incredibly close. And this election is going to be a referendum on Barack Obama, not on John McCain.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Obama has lost traction.

Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Bush's meddling in Georgia is now going to come back to bite him, because he's going to have to back down. And you're going to see a split between John McCain, who will take a more hawkish stand, and Bush and the administration, who are going to try to settle it.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Bob Barr running third party will make Georgia winnable for Barack Obama. That's our Georgia, not Russia's Georgia. (Laughter.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Obama has a very big problem with women over 40 and a really big problem with women over 50. He will not choose Hillary Clinton, but look for him to actually become Hillary Clinton to try to hustle the cougars.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Obama also has a big problem with you.

Please.

MS. BERNARD: The Chinese taking on the tactics of the Russians in putting a lot of emphasis on sports for children based on the type of physique they have is going to put China in the position where, during this Olympics, they will win the second-highest number of gold medals.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Actually, my prediction fights that one, because I predict the Chinese will win the most medals at the Beijing Olympics this year.

Don't forget to download a McLaughlin podcast at McLaughlin.com. And bye-bye. (PBS segment.)

Issue Four: Jet Blues.

AMY ZIFF (Travelocity editor-at-large): (From videotape.) They have seen over 40 percent increases in fuel costs in the past year. And that adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars to their bottom line, and they have to find ways to recoup this.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Weight is the enemy -- the more weight, the more jet fuel. American air carriers have announced that between October and December, the number of seats that will be removed to save money is estimated at over 20 million seats. Recently other fees have been levied on travelers by airlines: Baggage -- airlines used to allow two free; now, on many carriers, it's one. And beyond that one, surcharges: Snack and drink -- the staple free drink on some airlines no longer exists. Also gone is the free meal. Pet fees -- they've increased. Unaccompanied minors -- increased fees or brand new fees. Preferred seating -- get this -- U.S. Airways charges extra fees for aisle and window seats.

The future looks bleaker.

RICK SEANY (FareCompare.com): (From videotape.) The worst-case scenario is actually weighing people as they check in at the boarding process.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Potable water that is in a container costs about $2 on airlines, quite a few airlines. Now, an airline is a federally licensed company. Should the FAA look into such a company that refuses to supply free water to its passengers?

MS. BERNARD: No. There's no constitutional right to having free water on an airplane. No, this is market sources. This is the way the free market works. If people don't want to pay $2 for water on an airplane, they'll choose another airline.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, water is not a luxury. Water is a life necessity.

MS. BERNARD: It is, but --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: And potable water ought to be available at all times at no charge.

MS. BERNARD: Yes, and it should be available in the lavatory at no charge on the airplane.

MS. CLIFT: That's not drinkable water.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's not potable water. God knows where that's been. (Laughter.) MR. BUCHANAN: John, if you are choking on an airline, they will bring you water. But they don't have to bring you a free bottle of water. Buy it before you get on the plane.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: And then you can't bring your own water through security. They nab it and they throw it away.

MR. BUCHANAN: You buy it after you get through security.

MS. CLIFT: Exactly.

MR. BUCHANAN: They sell it there.

MS. CROWLEY: Actually, it is the law now that if you're sitting on the tarmac, if you're not taking off, they actually do have to provide you water and have to --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Free.

MS. CROWLEY: Yes. And they have to turn the ventilation on, because people were sitting on runways for, like, four hours passing out. They don't give you food. They have to give you water if you're on the tarmac for "x" amount of hours before you take off.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Suppose you're on a four- or five-hour trip across the country and you have to pay $2 to get a bottle of water?

MS. CROWLEY: You have to pay for everything now. Flying is a horror show.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: They should have potable water available all the time. It's a life necessity.

MR. BUCHANAN: Why don't you pay for it --

MS. CROWLEY: I agree with it.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, food is a life necessity too, and you've got to pay for it when you get it.

MS. CLIFT: I suspect there are enough John McLaughlins in the world that they will get so much push-back that they will then eventually just fold all those costs into the cost of the airplane ticket, like they do now.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, if you think they're going to get push- back on this, can you imagine what they're going to get when they start weighing people --

MS. CLIFT: Well, I think that would be just fine, actually. (Laughs.) Some of us would do well.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to determine the cost of the ticket in terms of your weight? What do you think of that, Pat? MR. BUCHANAN: There's nothing wrong with that, in my judgment. It's a company.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Suppose obesity is due to the endocrine system.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, look --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Suppose it's an illness, true obesity.

MR. BUCHANAN: This isn't under the civil rights law yet, John.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?

MR. BUCHANAN: Because no one thought to put it there. You weren't in Congress at the time.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, when you go out --

MR. BUCHANAN: If you've got a 300-pound guy getting on a plane and the plane can only carry so many people, what's wrong with charging him more?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The courtesy wheelchair for an invalid is a matter of requirement. It's not a matter of option for the airlines. They have to supply them --

MS. CLIFT: And they provide them.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- because they're a federally licensed company.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, what you're saying -- should he pay or should everybody pay? That's the question we're asking.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to know whether people ought to be weighed and the ticket adjusted according to your weight.

MS. CLIFT: No, because I think that would be such a bureaucratic procedure, and you'd have all the scales set up, and it would embarrass some people. I mean, people don't even admit to their real weight on a driver's license.

MS. BERNARD: People would sue and say, "This is discriminatory; you're discriminating against me."

MS. CLIFT: It's not going to happen.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about these optical machines that you walk through, they can see your whole body, they can see all of your apparatus -- (laughter) -- and it's a very clear picture. And then it goes in a computer and it stays on file forever. MS. CROWLEY: It doesn't take long enough to go through the checkout line now? You're going to have an extra hour in line because everybody's going to be weighed?

MS. CLIFT: It's not going to happen.



END.

ck down.

MS. CROWLEY: We will put diplomatic pressure on the Russians to back off.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Buffalo Gals.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ, presumptive Republican presidential nominee): (From videotape.) I encourage Cindy to compete. (Cheers, applause.) I told her, with a little luck, she could be the only woman ever to serve as both first lady and Ms. Buffalo Chip. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The 68th annual Buffalo Chip motorcyclist rally this week in Sturgis, South Dakota was a campaign stop for Senator John McCain. Bikers showed their support by revving their engines. Then there's Miss Buffalo Chip, a beauty contest to crown the 2008 chip.

Not everyone thinks that John McCain's jocose suggestion that his wife become the new title-holder was a good political move; notably Kim Gandy, president of NOW, the National Organization of Women, who said this about McCain. Quote: "Maybe he figures that the frat-boy routine worked for George Bush, so he's trying the same thing. But I'm not sure that this is going to play very well with the audience he's courting." ESPN adds this to the description of the Miss Buffalo Chip contest. Quote: "Essentially a topless beauty pageant, and occasionally bottomless too," unquote.

Question: By campaigning in Sturgis, did John McCain strike a populist chord? I ask you.

MS. BERNARD: (Laughs.) I think John McCain was just having fun. And I think all of the reports I have read show that he was not there very long. It was a very quick stop, and he kept on going.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You head up the Independent Women's what, Association?

MS. BERNARD: Independent Women's Forum.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forum. And NOW -- you heard what the NOW head had to say. Do you know her?

MS. BERNARD: I know Kim Gandy personally. I like Kim Gandy. But Kim and I disagree on almost everything.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You disagree on the point that she's taken here.

MS. BERNARD: Yeah, I do. I think anybody who takes a look at that clip realizes that he was just having fun. And the closest we will ever see Cindy McCain coming to going in a topless or bottomless beauty pageant was the denim T-shirt that we just saw her wearing and her black jeans. He was having fun. And what was more interesting than anything else is the rousing applause he got from the crowd. He was the celebrity this week. Last week it was Barack Obama.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, we've been talking on this for NOW, N-O-W, National Organization for Women, for many, many years, many years -- over two decades. Okay? But it seems to have somewhat slipped from view. Is that because of a change in the lineup in the -- not the strategy -- in the layers of femininity at feminine organizations since she came on the scene? MS. BERNARD: Well, I call -- and I do this in jest, but sort of seriousness with Kim Gandy -- and I refer to the National Organization of Women as the National Organization for Some Women. So, for example, you saw NOW and other really left-of-center women's groups that really supported Anita Hill when she was having her problems with Justice Thomas.

However, when we saw Garry Trudeau making fun of Condoleezza Rice in The Washington Post in his syndicated column and referring to her as "Brown Sugar" and insinuating that she was having an affair with President Bush, left-of-center groups like the National Organization for Women and Feminist Majority were completely silent.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where are we now as far as current women are concerned?

MS. BERNARD: Well, we have gone from second-wave feminism to third-wave feminism. And what most women will tell you today is that there is a difference -- second-wave feminism being what happened in the 1960s, 1970s, and maybe even in the late 1980s; third-wave feminism, by a lot of feminist authors, refers to what we have seen in the feminist movement since the 1990s, and it's very different.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How would you describe the feminism of Eleanor Clift?

MS. BERNARD: (Laughs.) I don't know --

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?

MS. BERNARD: I will --

MS. CLIFT: I said --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know what she's talking about?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, she heads the Independent Women's Forum, which is basically conservative women.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that true?

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MS. BERNARD: We are right-of-center, free-market women. We believe in free markets, personal responsibility, limited government.

MS. CLIFT: I'm for all of those things too, by the way.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where are you now? Are you in fourth level, or wherever she described it? MS. BERNARD: Third-wave feminism.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Third-wave feminism.

MS. CLIFT: You know, the feminist movement, as it was defined in the '60s and '70s, that was a long time ago. And just as the civil rights era has moved past where it was, so has feminism. But I think, you know, feminists still want a Supreme Court that upholds Roe v. Wade.

MR. BUCHANAN: I still --

MS. CLIFT: I don't know where you are on that, but that is still a defining issue for many women.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, I'm still back at Consciousness I. (Laughter.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where's the Paleontological Era? (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: And I'm admitting --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where are you? Quickly, quickly.

MS. CROWLEY: I consider myself a feminist, but in this sort of post-feminist description that Michelle laid out. And I think, you know, when Hillary Clinton was sort of complaining after the nomination was wrapped up for Barack Obama that she had been largely a victim of sexism, I think, in some respects, that was true on Hillary Clinton.

But one of the reasons why it didn't gain traction is that Hillary was one of the final two finalists for the nomination of a major political party. We have had women on the U.S. Supreme Court for a long time, female secretaries of State. And I don't think it has the same resonance among the American people --

MR. BUCHANAN: Women feel she was treated badly, though.

MS. CROWLEY: -- as it once did.

MR. BUCHANAN: Women feel she was treated very badly --

MS. BERNARD: Not all women.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- as a woman. Not all women. But I think there was some of that stuff in there; not as much as the Clintons say.

MS. CLIFT: There were sexist episodes, but that's not why she lost. But I think what Clinton supporters really resented is the fact that the media seemed to regard the possibility of a biracial man as more historic than the possibility of a woman as president.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: A Quick Look at the Polls.

New polls out this week. AP-Ipsos: Obama leads -- Obama, 47 percent; McCain, 41 percent. Also McCain leads by 10 points among whites. And among men, the two candidates are tied.

Zogby's new poll: McCain leads overall -- McCain, 42 percent; Obama, 41 percent.

Give me a quick impression.

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama's lost some ground, but McCain still can't get to 45 percent. I think Obama is ahead nationally four or five points. In states, he's probably ahead --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor. MS. CLIFT: He's ahead in the electoral count. And I think the Obama number is his floor and I think the McCain number is his ceiling.

MS. CROWLEY: I think the bloom is a little bit off the Obama rose. The more people get to know him, the more uneasy they are with his liberal politics and with his inexperience.

MS. BERNARD: That's interesting, because I think it's going to be a very close election. I think Senator Obama is ahead of John McCain now. But, that being said, it is going to be incredibly close. And this election is going to be a referendum on Barack Obama, not on John McCain.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Obama has lost traction.

Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Bush's meddling in Georgia is now going to come back to bite him, because he's going to have to back down. And you're going to see a split between John McCain, who will take a more hawkish stand, and Bush and the administration, who are going to try to settle it.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Bob Barr running third party will make Georgia winnable for Barack Obama. That's our Georgia, not Russia's Georgia. (Laughter.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Obama has a very big problem with women over 40 and a really big problem with women over 50. He will not choose Hillary Clinton, but look for him to actually become Hillary Clinton to try to hustle the cougars.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Obama also has a big problem with you.

Please.

MS. BERNARD: The Chinese taking on the tactics of the Russians in putting a lot of emphasis on sports for children based on the type of physique they have is going to put China in the position where, during this Olympics, they will win the second-highest number of gold medals.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Actually, my prediction fights that one, because I predict the Chinese will win the most medals at the Beijing Olympics this year.

Don't forget to download a McLaughlin podcast at McLaughlin.com. And bye-bye. (PBS segment.)

Issue Four: Jet Blues.

AMY ZIFF (Travelocity editor-at-large): (From videotape.) They have seen over 40 percent increases in fuel costs in the past year. And that adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars to their bottom line, and they have to find ways to recoup this.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Weight is the enemy -- the more weight, the more jet fuel. American air carriers have announced that between October and December, the number of seats that will be removed to save money is estimated at over 20 million seats. Recently other fees have been levied on travelers by airlines: Baggage -- airlines used to allow two free; now, on many carriers, it's one. And beyond that one, surcharges: Snack and drink -- the staple free drink on some airlines no longer exists. Also gone is the free meal. Pet fees -- they've increased. Unaccompanied minors -- increased fees or brand new fees. Preferred seating -- get this -- U.S. Airways charges extra fees for aisle and window seats.

The future looks bleaker.

RICK SEANY (FareCompare.com): (From videotape.) The worst-case scenario is actually weighing people as they check in at the boarding process.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Potable water that is in a container costs about $2 on airlines, quite a few airlines. Now, an airline is a federally licensed company. Should the FAA look into such a company that refuses to supply free water to its passengers?

MS. BERNARD: No. There's no constitutional right to having free water on an airplane. No, this is market sources. This is the way the free market works. If people don't want to pay $2 for water on an airplane, they'll choose another airline.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, water is not a luxury. Water is a life necessity.

MS. BERNARD: It is, but --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: And potable water ought to be available at all times at no charge.

MS. BERNARD: Yes, and it should be available in the lavatory at no charge on the airplane.

MS. CLIFT: That's not drinkable water.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's not potable water. God knows where that's been. (Laughter.) MR. BUCHANAN: John, if you are choking on an airline, they will bring you water. But they don't have to bring you a free bottle of water. Buy it before you get on the plane.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: And then you can't bring your own water through security. They nab it and they throw it away.

MR. BUCHANAN: You buy it after you get through security.

MS. CLIFT: Exactly.

MR. BUCHANAN: They sell it there.

MS. CROWLEY: Actually, it is the law now that if you're sitting on the tarmac, if you're not taking off, they actually do have to provide you water and have to --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Free.

MS. CROWLEY: Yes. And they have to turn the ventilation on, because people were sitting on runways for, like, four hours passing out. They don't give you food. They have to give you water if you're on the tarmac for "x" amount of hours before you take off.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Suppose you're on a four- or five-hour trip across the country and you have to pay $2 to get a bottle of water?

MS. CROWLEY: You have to pay for everything now. Flying is a horror show.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: They should have potable water available all the time. It's a life necessity.

MR. BUCHANAN: Why don't you pay for it --

MS. CROWLEY: I agree with it.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, food is a life necessity too, and you've got to pay for it when you get it.

MS. CLIFT: I suspect there are enough John McLaughlins in the world that they will get so much push-back that they will then eventually just fold all those costs into the cost of the airplane ticket, like they do now.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, if you think they're going to get push- back on this, can you imagine what they're going to get when they start weighing people --

MS. CLIFT: Well, I think that would be just fine, actually. (Laughs.) Some of us would do well.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to determine the cost of the ticket in terms of your weight? What do you think of that, Pat? MR. BUCHANAN: There's nothing wrong with that, in my judgment. It's a company.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Suppose obesity is due to the endocrine system.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, look --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Suppose it's an illness, true obesity.

MR. BUCHANAN: This isn't under the civil rights law yet, John.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?

MR. BUCHANAN: Because no one thought to put it there. You weren't in Congress at the time.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, when you go out --

MR. BUCHANAN: If you've got a 300-pound guy getting on a plane and the plane can only carry so many people, what's wrong with charging him more?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The courtesy wheelchair for an invalid is a matter of requirement. It's not a matter of option for the airlines. They have to supply them --

MS. CLIFT: And they provide them.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- because they're a federally licensed company.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, what you're saying -- should he pay or should everybody pay? That's the question we're asking.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to know whether people ought to be weighed and the ticket adjusted according to your weight.

MS. CLIFT: No, because I think that would be such a bureaucratic procedure, and you'd have all the scales set up, and it would embarrass some people. I mean, people don't even admit to their real weight on a driver's license.

MS. BERNARD: People would sue and say, "This is discriminatory; you're discriminating against me."

MS. CLIFT: It's not going to happen.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about these optical machines that you walk through, they can see your whole body, they can see all of your apparatus -- (laughter) -- and it's a very clear picture. And then it goes in a computer and it stays on file forever. MS. CROWLEY: It doesn't take long enough to go through the checkout line now? You're going to have an extra hour in line because everybody's going to be weighed?

MS. CLIFT: It's not going to happen.



END.