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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP SUBJECT: 2008 YEAR-END AWARDS PART I HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, SYNDICATED RADIO COMMENTATOR; CLARENCE PAGE, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 27-28, 2008

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ANNOUNCER: It's the 27th annual McLaughlin Group Year-End Awards, 2008, part one. Here's the master of ceremonies, John McLaughlin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Biggest winner of 2008, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Barack Obama. And I move we make it unanimous and move on to biggest loser, John. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, Barack Obama is obvious. But I would like to broaden it a bit, because I think it's the restoration of democracy in this country. The people have truly spoken, and spoken loud. And I think his election really helps restore America's standing in the world. It's a lot to expect from one human being. But he always said it wasn't about him; it was about us. And so that's my story, and I'm believing it. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Very high-minded. We're getting off to a good start, Eleanor.

Clarence -- or, excuse me, Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Well, I might be the only one on the panel not saying Barack Obama. My biggest winner is Vladimir Putin, because the Russian bear is back.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Look out. Well, besides Barack Obama, I expanded out to my former intern, David Axelrod, who is now being lauded as the new winner, the new Karl Rove, only from the left. And he doesn't even have to have all the headaches of being president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's a point well-taken.

MS. CROWLEY: Drum roll, please.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you.

MS. CROWLEY: That jacket is blinding me, John. I can barely look at you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You didn't peek, right?

MS. CROWLEY: Are you there?

MS. CLIFT: The blouse does a pretty good job too. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll give you the biggest winner of 2008.

MR. BUCHANAN: Carnac the Magnificent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The biggest winner of 2008 is cash. That's C-A- S-H, cash. Cash did better than real estate or the stock market, and it won the presidential election for Obama -- $750 million of cash, to be exact. In 2008, cash was king and cash was president.

Okay, biggest loser, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Biggest loser is the Napoleon of the Caucasus, Mikhail Saakashvili. He invades South Ossetia and in 48 hours he loses South Ossetia, he loses Abkhazia, he loses the war, and he almost loses his country. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Beautiful.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, biggest loser, the Republican Party, which has been pretty well decimated. It lost just about every demographic and geographic group except for the South. But my real choice is the stock market. That's the biggest loser.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Biggest loser: American free market capitalism.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wow. Well-stated and high-minded also.

Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Well, besides Eliot Spitzer, the big loser was the gay marriage issue, actually; another big loss on Election Day, even though civil unions as an issue are climbing. So it was a tossup.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The biggest loser of 2008: Campaign finance reform. Reform began after the Watergate scandal, which Buchanan knows a lot about. Thirty-five years ago, public financing of campaigns became an option. Obama originally said yes, then said no to public financing. He raised $750 million, breaking all records. Thus the intended curb on the influence of unrestricted money in politics went out the window. Cash won. Campaign finance reform lost, probably forever.

MR. BUCHANAN: Edit it down a little bit. Go ahead.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, best politician, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sarah Palin, from Wasilla to Wonder Woman to world stardom, all in two weeks. Eat your heart out, Eleanor. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I don't think she helped John McCain much. But my best politician is Barack Obama. He beat the Hillary Clinton machine, which was the biggest, baddest campaign machine in town. And he beat back the vaunted Republican attack machine. And he never lost his cool.

MS. CROWLEY: I want you to mark this day in history, because today Eleanor and I agree on something. Best politician: Barack Obama. He won, and he won significantly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Won the Johnnies here.

Clarence. MR. PAGE: Hard to beat Barack Obama, but I'd say coming close is Jay Leno. He's got a better time slot and he'll get more sleep at night.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I'll beat it. Best politician of 2008 -- hold on to your seats -- Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister of Iraq. Today Iraq has a constitution, a largely unified government, a timetable for U.S. withdrawal, and is working out political compromise among its Kurdish, Sunni and Shi'ite factions. Al-Maliki is the world's best politician of 2008.

Okay, worst politician, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Governor Rod Blagojevich, a bleeping disaster. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I give it to the big three auto execs, who flew in on their separate private jets with their tin cups asking the government for money.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Very well-stated.

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Eliot Spitzer, a governor and former state attorney general who buys a hooker and schleps her across state lines. I mean, really. Who does that?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst politician coming up. Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Well, I'd say it was Bill Ayers. Out of all the people you've mentioned, he's the only one who would agree that he's the worst politician of the year. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst politician: Hillary Clinton. It was hers to lose, and she managed to do it. First she irritated the left wing of the Democratic Party by refusing to say outright that her vote to go to war with Iraq was a mistake. Then she failed to recognize the strategic importance of the caucus states for the Democratic nomination. But don't count Hillary out. Next time she could win.

Pat. MR. BUCHANAN: What is your question, John? (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most defining political moment.

MR. BUCHANAN: That would be the day Lehman Brothers died. It not only sank the market, greatest crash since 1929. It sank the McCain campaign, which up until that day was four points ahead, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I give it to Barack Obama and his speech on race delivered in Philadelphia, which will go down in the history books as one of the most eloquent expressions of an issue that has bedeviled this country. It also saved his campaign.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was a great speech.

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: I give it to General David Petraeus, whose testimony in April that the surge in Iraq was working dramatically changed the whole tenor of the rest of the presidential campaign.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: All good, but I have to give it to Barack Obama's Grant Park speech, the great victory night and the dancing in the streets around the planet. That's the one moment everybody's going to remember.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the most defining political moment was when the leading Republican in the U.S., George W. Bush, was absent from the Republican National Convention on the night of John McCain's acceptance speech, nowhere to be seen. That sums it up -- the most defining political moment in '08.

Okay, turncoat of the year, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Bernie Madoff might be that, John. He shafted every single friend he's got. He ripped off charities. He ripped off little foundations.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who is he? Who is he?

MR. BUCHANAN: He's the big investor, the Palm Beach investor, the Long Island investor; stole $50 billion, lost it all for all of his friends.

MR. PAGE: Ponzi scheme.

MR. BUCHANAN: They don't come any worse. I mean, he's got a Ponzi scheme that Ponzi never dreamed of. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know that brother Mortimer lost $35 million in a charitable --

MR. BUCHANAN: Thirty-five million. He swears he never met him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're going to hear Mort on that from himself.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I think it's pronounced Madoff, as in "made off with your money." (Laughter.)

MR. PAGE: Yeah.

MS. CLIFT: Look, there are a lot of contenders for turncoat. I think Senator Lieberman has got to be there on the top of the list. But my favorite is Chris Buckley, the son of the founder of the National Review, who endorsed Barack Obama; crossed party lines, perhaps forever.

MS. CROWLEY: There are a lot of turncoats this year from whom to choose -- Bill "Judas" Richardson. But my top choice is Colin Powell.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Well, I've got to stick with Joe Lieberman. I'll tell you, it's hard to beat. But, you know, it was a big year for turncoats. You can name a lot of Republicans who went for Obama.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Turncoat of the year --

MS. CROWLEY: And a lot of Democrats who went for Barack Obama were with Hillary.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I'm going to tie this all up. A joint award: Senator Joe Lieberman for crossing party lines to back McCain, and General Colin Powell for crossing party lines to back Obama -- two turncoats.

Okay, most boring, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Greenspan-Lieberman trophy, John. It was awarded this year, as it often goes, to the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke. He's a good guy. But they have to be boring, and Bernanke rises to it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I give it to the Republican congressional leadership -- John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, hardly household names. But it's best for the Republican Party that they aren't. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Very boring, right.

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Most boring: The New York Times -- so predictable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MS. CROWLEY: Boring.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Well, I was going to give it to Bush's final days till he started playing dodge the shoe over in Iraq and added unexpected excitement. So I've got to give it to Mike Gravel, whose campaign speeches can still cure my insomnia.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most boring: Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard. She gave the Republican National Convention speech endorsing McCain. It was the dullest political performance of 2008, and perhaps in history.

Okay, most charismatic, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Ex aequo, John. Two winners: Sarah Palin and Barack Obama, the most charismatic political figures of the year 2008, far and away.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I'll agree with that up to a point. Obama has the enduring charisma. (Laughter.) Sarah Palin, I think, gets mixed reviews about her future.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, she's been knifed by the press. (Laughter.)

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: The most charismatic: The late Heath Ledger in the movie "The Dark Knight."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Well, Pat and I agree too often here. I was going to say Obama and Palin, but my son says Lil Wayne. If you haven't heard of him, you don't know hip-hop. MS. CROWLEY: Right on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most charismatic, dual award: The Obama daughters, Sasha and Malia. They have the nation wrapped around their fingertips.

MR. PAGE: True. Hear, hear.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, bummest rap, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The smear that Bill Clinton was a racist because he compared the performance of Barack Obama in South Carolina with that of Jesse Jackson. It was preposterous. It was repeated. It was rotten.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: That Obama is a socialist who pals around with terrorists.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CLIFT: Bum rap.

MS. CROWLEY: All of the smears against Sarah Palin -- everything from that she was a bad mother to being unqualified to be vice president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Efforts by talk radio and certain bloggers to blame the economic collapse on the Community Reinvestment Act.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bummest rap -- that John McCain was too old to be president. That's age-ism, pure and simple, and it's a bump rap.

Okay --

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got a real interest in that one, don't you, John? (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I knew that was coming.

Fairest rap, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Fairest rap is that the media went into the tank all year long for Barack Obama, and some still are.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Beautiful. Eleanor. MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: And the water's fine, Pat. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Beautiful, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Fairest rap is Sarah Palin is not ready -- was not ready to be president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: The opposite of mine. Fairest rap: The Pelosi- Reid Democratic Congress at 9 percent job approval.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wow.

Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Fairest rap, that Fox News is in the tank against Barack Obama. (Laughter.) One-stop shopping.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fairest rap: Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. He resigned for patronizing high-priced call girls. As a prosecutor, Spitzer had thrown the book at prostitution rings. Actually, that perceived hypocrisy is what may have sealed his doom.

Pat, best comeback.

MR. BUCHANAN: Best comeback: Hillary Rodham Clinton lost 12 primaries in February, caucuses; came roaring back, beat him in Texas, Ohio, beat Barack West Virginia, Kentucky. She lost the nomination, was gracious. She came back to be secretary of State, the consolation prize, John; unbelievable comeback. You calling her the worst politician needs an award. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I also said she's going to try again, and the next time she's going to win.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I have Hillary Clinton also as the best comeback, after all of those columns that everybody wrote about she and Obama don't get along and all the bad blood, and he gives her the plum job in the Cabinet. Somebody did something right. But my fall-back would be John McCain, who was given up for dead in August and went on to win the nomination. So I'll give him that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The appointment of Hillary to the secretary of State does say a lot about Obama that's positive.

MS. CLIFT: Absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica. MS. CROWLEY: It is a good comeback, but I'm going to try something different. Best comeback: Britney Spears, who from this year went from suicide watch to having the number one album.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Put that down on your must-watch list, Pat. (Laughter.

)

MR. PAGE: She's on the way. Well, your fall-back was my number one of John McCain. This guy was literally -- he was flying coach, for Pete's sake, you know, and he was given up for politically dead; came back, got the Republican nomination. Most folks agree he was the strongest candidate in a year that was geared for Dems, and he really put up a good contest.

MS. CLIFT: And he's great on the Letterman show.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This selection sounds like the year began in November. I'll break it up for you. Best comeback: The Taliban. Despite the drubbing they took in 2002, they're back in control of most of southern Afghanistan, and they may have enough heroin poppy cultivation to keep them in guns and bullets for the rest of the century.

Okay, most original thinker, Pat, besides myself. (Laughter.)

MR. BUCHANAN: You know, that one never came to me. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. BUCHANAN: General Petraeus. His ideas may very well have won the Iraq war. They have certainly ended American involvement, seemingly with honor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I give it to the two Davids, David Axelrod and David Plouffe, who found and fastened on the message of change that the country really was looking for and cobbled together an Internet strategy that has created a citizens' army that we will hear a lot from over the coming years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A brand new political technique.

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Well, again, you're really going to have to mark this day in history, because this is the second time I'm agreeing with Eleanor Clift. David Axelrod is -- MS. CLIFT: I got there first. (Laughter.)

MS. CROWLEY: -- for sure because he ran a 21st century campaign. The Republicans have yet to update their strategies, their tactics and their message the way Axelrod was able to do it; and also with that stealth focus on the caucuses, which was able to sideline and marginalize Hillary Clinton so she could never catch up.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mmm-hmm.

Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Next to David Axelrod, my most impressive thinker of the year is Malcolm Gladwell. I don't know him. This guy --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "Tipping Point" Gladwell?

MR. PAGE: "Tipping Point" Gladwell. He's got a new book, "Outliers," that talks about what makes people successful. Luck has a lot to do with it, John -- surprise, surprise. But Gladwell never fails to surprise me with some new thoughts.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean he's still with us, huh?

MR. PAGE: He's still around.

MS. CLIFT: Young man.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most original thinker, a joint award, to Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler for their groundbreaking work in how social networks affect health and well-being, including obesity and quitting smoking. Also, get this, social networks produce happiness. It spreads from person to person throughout that social network. Happiness can be made as contagious as the flu. So cheer up, Pat. Look on the sunny side. The world will be a better place.

Okay, most stagnant thinker, Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: William Ayers. The guy is still defending his friends in that townhouse who blew themselves up with an anti- personnel bomb they were preparing for the NCO Club in Fort Dix. Give it a rest, buddy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I give it to those Republican stalwarts who, during the campaign, on the stage of a primary debate, raised their hands to say they do not believe in evolution -- although sometimes, sitting on this set, I think they have a point. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Get a load of that. Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Most stagnant thinker -- I give it to Rod Blagojevich, who has shown us that the Chicago hustle hasn't changed much since Al Capone.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: I give it to the FAIR Tax national sales tax idea. And I know I'm going to get a lot of e-mails, but I always do when I unload it against this stagnant idea that Mike Huckabee tried to revive this year; didn't get anywhere.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most stagnant thinker, a trifecta award: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. They continue to crank out the same arguments that we've heard before for bailout without a bankruptcy proceeding. Actually what they need is a structured and customized bankruptcy proceeding. That would do more than anything to get them out of this mess.

Okay, best photo-op, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sarah Palin pardoning the turkey -- (laughter) -- as, just behind her, they're stuffing turkeys headfirst into the wood chipper. It was a real beauty. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: I had that under the category of most disturbing photo-op. (Laughter.)

My most affecting photo-op was Jesse Jackson crying in Grant Park listening to Barack Obama's victory speech.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jesse Jackson, Sr.

MR. PAGE: Senior.

MS. CLIFT: Jesse Jackson, Sr., the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

MS. CROWLEY: My best photo-op is U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps with his eight gold medals.

MR. PAGE: Well, you got my Sarah Palin turkey. (Laughter.) Can't beat that one. But there was a hilarious shot of Barack Obama bicycling on Lakeshore Drive wearing one of those bicycle hats; looked like the classic Hyde Park nerd. Bury that picture, Barack. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I'll describe it for those who haven't heard about this; a few people left in America. The best photo-op was Sarah Palin standing at the podium at Thanksgiving time at the mike. She pardoned the turkey. But in the background, on camera, an Alaskan butcher is holding a live, defeathered turkey by its feet -- (laughter) -- and then, as she's still talking, inserts the turkey head-down into what looks like to be an enlarged hamburger grinder. MR. BUCHANAN: It's a wood chopper. (Laughter.

)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it sectionalizing the bird?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, it's taking care of the head, and then you take the body over here and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that what happened? Okay.

"Enough, already" award, Pat. I'm glad you studied that, by the way.

MR. BUCHANAN: Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. We can do without this guy, and someone ought to take him out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the problem? (Laughter.)

MR. PAGE: You name it -- starvation, cholera, runaway inflation. It's just a disaster.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's horrible -- people starving to death. He's a dreadful, dreadful human being.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, shooting people in cold blood?

MR. PAGE: All kinds of stuff.

MR. BUCHANAN: Dreadful, dreadful human being.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, people are really starving there. In fact, I heard one report that they're going through cow patties to find undigested corn kernels, if you can even imagine that. That's pretty bad.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't you cue off Mugabe and talk about the United Nations in connection with that?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you want me to discuss the U.N. here, John? (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I want you to explain why the U.N. can't do something to stop it. MR. BUCHANAN: Well, mainly South Africa should do something.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it beyond the U.N. --

MR. BUCHANAN: Frankly, I credit -- Mandela said the solution to this is an AK-47.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it beyond the U.N.? What does the U.N. --

MR. BUCHANAN: The U.N. --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the Organization of African States? Why aren't they doing something about it?

MR. BUCHANAN: That's one of the reasons we're not doing anything. These guys are paralyzed. They won't do anything.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?

MR. BUCHANAN: Because it's solidarity, revolutionary solidarity.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why can't we pressure them?

MR. PAGE: We are. We are pressuring them.

MR. BUCHANAN: We are pressuring them, right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Oh, no -- Eleanor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Enough, already -- the endless Minnesota recount between incumbent Senator Norm Coleman and challenger Al Franken, which could well go into the new year with legal challenges.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il -- dead or not? It's enough, already.

MR. PAGE: Ashley Dupree, Eliot Spitzer's call girl -- new record coming out, but beat by Joe the Plumber, who's got a new book coming out. Enough, already.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Enough, already -- media bias in favor of Obama. Now that the election is over, Eleanor, it's time to restore a modicum of press objectivity in covering Obama's presidency. That means giving the same tough scrutiny the media gives to other presidents. Give that to Obama. Okay, worst lie, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think John Edwards. He lied to his wife, lied to the National Enquirer, lied to these people who were very, very loyal to him and fought for him, and really just let them down horribly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I give it to Elizabeth Dole, who, in a campaign ad, faked her opponent's voice saying there is no God. And her opponent, Kay Hagan, is now the new senator from North Carolina. She happens to be a Sunday School teacher.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a horrific story, isn't it?

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Worst lie: "Hillary and I did everything we could to elect Barack Obama." (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bill Clinton.

MS. CROWLEY: Bill Clinton.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Worst lie: Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. "I did not have text message with that woman." (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really? (Laughter.) Then what happened?

MR. PAGE: Well, that's why he's in jail. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst lie: The lie that more education will keep Americans competitive in the global economy. The fact is that graduates with master's degrees in engineering and computer science or even doctorates in economics and biology, they all saw their incomes drop or remain flat. That means that the nation that education -- that the notion, rather, that education will shield us and make us globally competitive against low-cost countries like Pat's favorites, India and China, is a blatant falsehood.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's a brilliant insight.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, capitalist of the year, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Ken Lewis, Bank of America. The day Lehman Brothers died, he moved, got control of Merrill Lynch. Earlier he'd gotten Countrywide, the mortgage group. He did a tremendous job pulling this thing together and taking that big bank successfully through the greatest crash since 1929. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I, too, am a member of the T. Boone Pickens fan club, but I will add his wife, Madeleine Pickens, who has offered to create a million-acre sanctuary for the 30,000 wild horses that the federal government now has in captivity and is threatening to euthanize.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wonderful story.

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Capitalist of the year, Rod Blagojevich, because if you can't cash in on a Senate seat in Illinois, I mean, what can you cash in on, really?

MR. BUCHANAN: It's golden. It's gold.

MR. PAGE: Why didn't I think of that? You know, monetizing a Senate seat appointment, it's hard to beat that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you beat it?

MR. PAGE: The best -- no, just Treasury Secretary Paulson, who really brought socialism into our -- (laughs) -- our Wall Street system here. I guess that makes him something of a notable capitalist of the year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What else can you tell us about Rod?

MR. PAGE: A lot of stuff, John, but you've got to invite me back for me to give it to you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what occurs at this development in the story?

MR. PAGE: At least I didn't put a price tag on it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You believe his lawyer?

MR. PAGE: Well, I think his lawyer has done a good defense.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: His lawyer says that these charges are greatly exaggerated.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's going to walk, John.

MR. PAGE: He's going to say it was all talk but there was no action. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He will walk?

MR. BUCHANAN: He will walk. He will not be -- I don't even know if he'll be indicted. He will never be convicted of selling that Senate seat.

MS. CLIFT: Well, I agree with that, but they've got lots of other stuff on him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The lawyer contends -- the lawyer contends that there has been no follow-up action.

MR. PAGE: No action, right, just talk.

MR. BUCHANAN: There's no consummation.

MR. PAGE: However, I mean, you could make a conspiracy case --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's a sin, John, but not a crime.

MR. PAGE: -- just from talk alone. And a jury may be so upset that he tried to put the squeeze on the children's hospital, for Pete's sake, that they're going to say, "Send him up the river." You know, but --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that ignores some of his really humanitarian legislative initiatives of his own.

MR. PAGE: Yeah, but that will be ignored, John, rest assured.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Capitalist of the year -- I have to get in on this, Pat. I know you're trying to squeeze me out.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Warren Buffett. He said that now is a good time to scoop up stock bargains. He got it right. Buffett put his money --

MR. BUCHANAN: He took a bath.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?

MR. BUCHANAN: He took a bath too.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it's not over yet. He put his money where his mouth is, Pat -- a good lesson for you; namely -- (laughter) -- namely, with Bear Stearns --

MR. BUCHANAN: I put it in banks. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and, namely, with Goldman Sachs, billions of dollars of his money. Okay, honorable mention, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Goldman's headed down, John. (Laughs.) Maybe out.

MS. CLIFT: It's not over yet.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. BUCHANAN: Honorable mention, person of the year, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the second-dominant figure of the year, ended up with the second-greatest job in government.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Why does that make me nervous when you're such a --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I give it to the two first ladies, the outgoing Laura Bush and the incoming Michelle Obama. They each, in their own way, have style and grace.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Clarence.

MS. CROWLEY: Very nice --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Very nice, Eleanor.

I give it to U.S. troops, who turned Iraq around, and they continue to fight Islamic terrorism around the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Go Hillary.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Honorable mention joint award to the military and intelligence operatives in Colombia, who pulled off a risky operation against rebel forces to rescue hostages from the jungle of Colombia, including former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and 14 others. This daring operation went off flawlessly, without loss of life or injury to a single hostage.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, here it is, Pat -- person of the year.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's got to be Barack Obama; comes from nowhere to become the Democratic nominee and then the president of the United States -- a first-term senator, first African-American.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor. MS. CLIFT: I second that. But I like to spread it around. I'm giving it to Senator Ted Kennedy, whose timely endorsement helped facilitate the passing of the torch. And he is poised to be a prominent player in this country achieving health care coverage, which he's been working on since 1976.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well-stated.

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Person of the year: George W. Bush. Our much- maligned president, on his way out, has kept us safe from another terror attack for over seven years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: I'd say Barack Obama, but I give a runner-up to Hillary Clinton, who really did a magnificent job with that campaign, the tenacity of it, and has got a future.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The person of the year, T. Boone Pickens, billionaire energy guru. Pickens made a large amount of money as a Texas oil tycoon. This year he revealed himself as environmentally dedicated. He came up with the Pickens plan, a design that will work to wean us off our foreign oil dependency, especially through wind power.

Next week, McLaughlin Group 2008 awards, part two.

Merry Christmas. Bye-bye.



END.

trol of most of southern Afghanistan, and they may have enough heroin poppy cultivation to keep them in guns and bullets for the rest of the century.

Okay, most original thinker, Pat, besides myself. (Laughter.)

MR. BUCHANAN: You know, that one never came to me. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. BUCHANAN: General Petraeus. His ideas may very well have won the Iraq war. They have certainly ended American involvement, seemingly with honor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I give it to the two Davids, David Axelrod and David Plouffe, who found and fastened on the message of change that the country really was looking for and cobbled together an Internet strategy that has created a citizens' army that we will hear a lot from over the coming years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A brand new political technique.

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Well, again, you're really going to have to mark this day in history, because this is the second time I'm agreeing with Eleanor Clift. David Axelrod is -- MS. CLIFT: I got there first. (Laughter.)

MS. CROWLEY: -- for sure because he ran a 21st century campaign. The Republicans have yet to update their strategies, their tactics and their message the way Axelrod was able to do it; and also with that stealth focus on the caucuses, which was able to sideline and marginalize Hillary Clinton so she could never catch up.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mmm-hmm.

Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Next to David Axelrod, my most impressive thinker of the year is Malcolm Gladwell. I don't know him. This guy --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "Tipping Point" Gladwell?

MR. PAGE: "Tipping Point" Gladwell. He's got a new book, "Outliers," that talks about what makes people successful. Luck has a lot to do with it, John -- surprise, surprise. But Gladwell never fails to surprise me with some new thoughts.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean he's still with us, huh?

MR. PAGE: He's still around.

MS. CLIFT: Young man.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most original thinker, a joint award, to Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler for their groundbreaking work in how social networks affect health and well-being, including obesity and quitting smoking. Also, get this, social networks produce happiness. It spreads from person to person throughout that social network. Happiness can be made as contagious as the flu. So cheer up, Pat. Look on the sunny side. The world will be a better place.

Okay, most stagnant thinker, Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: William Ayers. The guy is still defending his friends in that townhouse who blew themselves up with an anti- personnel bomb they were preparing for the NCO Club in Fort Dix. Give it a rest, buddy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I give it to those Republican stalwarts who, during the campaign, on the stage of a primary debate, raised their hands to say they do not believe in evolution -- although sometimes, sitting on this set, I think they have a point. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Get a load of that. Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Most stagnant thinker -- I give it to Rod Blagojevich, who has shown us that the Chicago hustle hasn't changed much since Al Capone.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: I give it to the FAIR Tax national sales tax idea. And I know I'm going to get a lot of e-mails, but I always do when I unload it against this stagnant idea that Mike Huckabee tried to revive this year; didn't get anywhere.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most stagnant thinker, a trifecta award: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. They continue to crank out the same arguments that we've heard before for bailout without a bankruptcy proceeding. Actually what they need is a structured and customized bankruptcy proceeding. That would do more than anything to get them out of this mess.

Okay, best photo-op, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sarah Palin pardoning the turkey -- (laughter) -- as, just behind her, they're stuffing turkeys headfirst into the wood chipper. It was a real beauty. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: I had that under the category of most disturbing photo-op. (Laughter.)

My most affecting photo-op was Jesse Jackson crying in Grant Park listening to Barack Obama's victory speech.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jesse Jackson, Sr.

MR. PAGE: Senior.

MS. CLIFT: Jesse Jackson, Sr., the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

MS. CROWLEY: My best photo-op is U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps with his eight gold medals.

MR. PAGE: Well, you got my Sarah Palin turkey. (Laughter.) Can't beat that one. But there was a hilarious shot of Barack Obama bicycling on Lakeshore Drive wearing one of those bicycle hats; looked like the classic Hyde Park nerd. Bury that picture, Barack. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I'll describe it for those who haven't heard about this; a few people left in America. The best photo-op was Sarah Palin standing at the podium at Thanksgiving time at the mike. She pardoned the turkey. But in the background, on camera, an Alaskan butcher is holding a live, defeathered turkey by its feet -- (laughter) -- and then, as she's still talking, inserts the turkey head-down into what looks like to be an enlarged hamburger grinder. MR. BUCHANAN: It's a wood chopper. (Laughter.

)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it sectionalizing the bird?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, it's taking care of the head, and then you take the body over here and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that what happened? Okay.

"Enough, already" award, Pat. I'm glad you studied that, by the way.

MR. BUCHANAN: Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. We can do without this guy, and someone ought to take him out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the problem? (Laughter.)

MR. PAGE: You name it -- starvation, cholera, runaway inflation. It's just a disaster.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's horrible -- people starving to death. He's a dreadful, dreadful human being.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, shooting people in cold blood?

MR. PAGE: All kinds of stuff.

MR. BUCHANAN: Dreadful, dreadful human being.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, people are really starving there. In fact, I heard one report that they're going through cow patties to find undigested corn kernels, if you can even imagine that. That's pretty bad.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't you cue off Mugabe and talk about the United Nations in connection with that?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you want me to discuss the U.N. here, John? (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I want you to explain why the U.N. can't do something to stop it. MR. BUCHANAN: Well, mainly South Africa should do something.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it beyond the U.N. --

MR. BUCHANAN: Frankly, I credit -- Mandela said the solution to this is an AK-47.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it beyond the U.N.? What does the U.N. --

MR. BUCHANAN: The U.N. --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the Organization of African States? Why aren't they doing something about it?

MR. BUCHANAN: That's one of the reasons we're not doing anything. These guys are paralyzed. They won't do anything.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?

MR. BUCHANAN: Because it's solidarity, revolutionary solidarity.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why can't we pressure them?

MR. PAGE: We are. We are pressuring them.

MR. BUCHANAN: We are pressuring them, right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Oh, no -- Eleanor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Enough, already -- the endless Minnesota recount between incumbent Senator Norm Coleman and challenger Al Franken, which could well go into the new year with legal challenges.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il -- dead or not? It's enough, already.

MR. PAGE: Ashley Dupree, Eliot Spitzer's call girl -- new record coming out, but beat by Joe the Plumber, who's got a new book coming out. Enough, already.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Enough, already -- media bias in favor of Obama. Now that the election is over, Eleanor, it's time to restore a modicum of press objectivity in covering Obama's presidency. That means giving the same tough scrutiny the media gives to other presidents. Give that to Obama. Okay, worst lie, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think John Edwards. He lied to his wife, lied to the National Enquirer, lied to these people who were very, very loyal to him and fought for him, and really just let them down horribly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I give it to Elizabeth Dole, who, in a campaign ad, faked her opponent's voice saying there is no God. And her opponent, Kay Hagan, is now the new senator from North Carolina. She happens to be a Sunday School teacher.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a horrific story, isn't it?

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Worst lie: "Hillary and I did everything we could to elect Barack Obama." (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bill Clinton.

MS. CROWLEY: Bill Clinton.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Worst lie: Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. "I did not have text message with that woman." (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really? (Laughter.) Then what happened?

MR. PAGE: Well, that's why he's in jail. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst lie: The lie that more education will keep Americans competitive in the global economy. The fact is that graduates with master's degrees in engineering and computer science or even doctorates in economics and biology, they all saw their incomes drop or remain flat. That means that the nation that education -- that the notion, rather, that education will shield us and make us globally competitive against low-cost countries like Pat's favorites, India and China, is a blatant falsehood.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's a brilliant insight.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, capitalist of the year, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Ken Lewis, Bank of America. The day Lehman Brothers died, he moved, got control of Merrill Lynch. Earlier he'd gotten Countrywide, the mortgage group. He did a tremendous job pulling this thing together and taking that big bank successfully through the greatest crash since 1929. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I, too, am a member of the T. Boone Pickens fan club, but I will add his wife, Madeleine Pickens, who has offered to create a million-acre sanctuary for the 30,000 wild horses that the federal government now has in captivity and is threatening to euthanize.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wonderful story.

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Capitalist of the year, Rod Blagojevich, because if you can't cash in on a Senate seat in Illinois, I mean, what can you cash in on, really?

MR. BUCHANAN: It's golden. It's gold.

MR. PAGE: Why didn't I think of that? You know, monetizing a Senate seat appointment, it's hard to beat that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you beat it?

MR. PAGE: The best -- no, just Treasury Secretary Paulson, who really brought socialism into our -- (laughs) -- our Wall Street system here. I guess that makes him something of a notable capitalist of the year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What else can you tell us about Rod?

MR. PAGE: A lot of stuff, John, but you've got to invite me back for me to give it to you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what occurs at this development in the story?

MR. PAGE: At least I didn't put a price tag on it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You believe his lawyer?

MR. PAGE: Well, I think his lawyer has done a good defense.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: His lawyer says that these charges are greatly exaggerated.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's going to walk, John.

MR. PAGE: He's going to say it was all talk but there was no action. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He will walk?

MR. BUCHANAN: He will walk. He will not be -- I don't even know if he'll be indicted. He will never be convicted of selling that Senate seat.

MS. CLIFT: Well, I agree with that, but they've got lots of other stuff on him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The lawyer contends -- the lawyer contends that there has been no follow-up action.

MR. PAGE: No action, right, just talk.

MR. BUCHANAN: There's no consummation.

MR. PAGE: However, I mean, you could make a conspiracy case --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's a sin, John, but not a crime.

MR. PAGE: -- just from talk alone. And a jury may be so upset that he tried to put the squeeze on the children's hospital, for Pete's sake, that they're going to say, "Send him up the river." You know, but --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that ignores some of his really humanitarian legislative initiatives of his own.

MR. PAGE: Yeah, but that will be ignored, John, rest assured.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Capitalist of the year -- I have to get in on this, Pat. I know you're trying to squeeze me out.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Warren Buffett. He said that now is a good time to scoop up stock bargains. He got it right. Buffett put his money --

MR. BUCHANAN: He took a bath.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?

MR. BUCHANAN: He took a bath too.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it's not over yet. He put his money where his mouth is, Pat -- a good lesson for you; namely -- (laughter) -- namely, with Bear Stearns --

MR. BUCHANAN: I put it in banks. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and, namely, with Goldman Sachs, billions of dollars of his money. Okay, honorable mention, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Goldman's headed down, John. (Laughs.) Maybe out.

MS. CLIFT: It's not over yet.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. BUCHANAN: Honorable mention, person of the year, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the second-dominant figure of the year, ended up with the second-greatest job in government.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Why does that make me nervous when you're such a --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I give it to the two first ladies, the outgoing Laura Bush and the incoming Michelle Obama. They each, in their own way, have style and grace.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Clarence.

MS. CROWLEY: Very nice --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Very nice, Eleanor.

I give it to U.S. troops, who turned Iraq around, and they continue to fight Islamic terrorism around the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Go Hillary.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Honorable mention joint award to the military and intelligence operatives in Colombia, who pulled off a risky operation against rebel forces to rescue hostages from the jungle of Colombia, including former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and 14 others. This daring operation went off flawlessly, without loss of life or injury to a single hostage.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, here it is, Pat -- person of the year.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's got to be Barack Obama; comes from nowhere to become the Democratic nominee and then the president of the United States -- a first-term senator, first African-American.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor. MS. CLIFT: I second that. But I like to spread it around. I'm giving it to Senator Ted Kennedy, whose timely endorsement helped facilitate the passing of the torch. And he is poised to be a prominent player in this country achieving health care coverage, which he's been working on since 1976.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well-stated.

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Person of the year: George W. Bush. Our much- maligned president, on his way out, has kept us safe from another terror attack for over seven years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: I'd say Barack Obama, but I give a runner-up to Hillary Clinton, who really did a magnificent job with that campaign, the tenacity of it, and has got a future.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The person of the year, T. Boone Pickens, billionaire energy guru. Pickens made a large amount of money as a Texas oil tycoon. This year he revealed himself as environmentally dedicated. He came up with the Pickens plan, a design that will work to wean us off our foreign oil dependency, especially through wind power.

Next week, McLaughlin Group 2008 awards, part two.

Merry Christmas. Bye-bye.



END.