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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP 2008 YEAR-END AWARDS

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

PANEL:
PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC;
ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK;
MONICA CROWLEY, SYNDICATED RADIO COMMENTATOR;
MORT ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT

BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JANUARY 3-4, 2009

.STX


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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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ANNOUNCER: It's the 27th annual McLaughlin Group year-end awards, 2008, part two. Here's the master of ceremonies, John McLaughlin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Destined for political stardom. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Bibi Netanyahu, John. He'll be back as prime minister of Israel, for good or ill. And the people of the Middle East and the United States and the world are going to have to deal with him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The Barack Obama Cabinet is studded with potential stars, but I'm going to give it to the incoming Energy secretary, David Chu, Nobel Prize-winning physicist who symbolizes the restoration of science and rationality in government.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What position is he going to have?

MS. CLIFT: Energy. And think global warming, climate change. We're going to deal with it, finally.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hot subject -- hot.

MS. CLIFT: Right. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of the death of the Republican Party are greatly exaggerated. And when you look out among young Republican governors, there are a lot of potential stars out there -- Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, Mitch Daniels in Indiana, Mark Sanford in South Carolina. But I'm going to choose the Utah governor, Jon Huntsman, who's a very impressive conservative.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, and whose father worked for Richard Nixon.

MS. CROWLEY: Indeed.

MR. BUCHANAN: Worked in our White House.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort. Welcome, Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Thank you, thank you. Rahm Emanuel, because he's going to manage the political program for the Obama administration through the Congress in such a brilliant way that he'll become a great political star.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent.

MS. CROWLEY: The envelope, please.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you.

MS. CROWLEY: You're welcome.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here we go. Are we ready?

MS. CROWLEY: We're ready.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Brace yourselves. Destined for political stardom in 2009: Lawrence Summers. He was picked by President-elect Obama to be a chief White House economic adviser. Summers doesn't have all of the solutions yet, but he was among the first to recognize the true nature of the problem; namely, globalism itself. As the global crisis deepens in 2009, Summers' star will shine.

Okay, destined for political oblivion. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: You think it was that good, John, huh?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Political oblivion: Comrade Bob Mugabe of Zimbabwe. He will not last a year. I don't think he'll last till June.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, he'll resign?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think he'll be gone.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? How? Who?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think he will be removed if he does not remove himself.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, he'll resign. Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Political oblivion: President Bush, although he may have a role in "Dodgeball II." There really was a "Dodgeball I." The way he dodged those shoes that were hurled at him showed very impressive athletic agility.

MS. CROWLEY: Great reflexes, Eleanor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Political oblivion: Joe Biden, because with Hillary Clinton going to State, the vice presidency will become a black hole.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Condi Rice. Even several former Republican secretaries of State have dismissed her views on a wide range of subjects, but even on Russia, her specialty.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Destined for political oblivion: Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. He fumbled. Paulson's previous image of competence and sagacity has dulled. But he did one thing absolutely right. He moved fast. Historically, that could be his saving grace.

Okay, best political theater. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Somali pirates, John -- a 300,000-ton tanker, Saudi tanker. They hijacked it, rolled it into port, and they're still sitting on it as of January 1.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the pirates are still active, right?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric -- great political theater, which was then spoofed on "Saturday Night Live" using Sarah Palin's own words. And special kudos to Tina Fey and SNL. They had a great year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, it revived their ratings.

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Barack Obama's confession to Joe the Plumber that he would like to spread the wealth around.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, Sarah Palin's acceptance speech at the Republican Convention, which was then topped by Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me pick that up. The best political theater: Sarah Palin's surprise debut at the Republican National Convention. McCain's vice presidential running mate mesmerized the delegates and mesmerized the nation. Palin's Minnesota acceptance speech drew more viewers than Barack Obama's Denver acceptance speech.

Next: Worst political theater. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Mumbai massacre. They made their point in the ugliest, most awful way imaginable about how much they hate what has gone on in Kashmir.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're talking about what happened in India, the horrors there.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm talking about the slaughter there, but it was done for political theater in the most evil --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What, is it international day for you, Pat, with your predictions?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, John, I read --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I commend you.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- read the Financial Times occasionally, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I've got to give it to the shoe-hurling incident in Baghdad, which, for good or for ill, will come to symbolize the Iraqi people's attitudes towards the invasion of their country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That may be the best political photo-op too.

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Hillary Clinton dodging sniper fire in Bosnia.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Beautiful.

Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The chairman of the SEC trying to explain why he's reversing the position that finally they did get enough information to investigate this guy Madoff, who pulled off the biggest scam in the history of the world of finance.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst political theater: The chief executives of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler arriving in Washington by private jet to plead for a $24 billion bailout. It was more than political tone deafness. It created a gagging sense of entitlement of America's new CEO class, who earn as much as 10 times more than their predecessor CEOs of the '80s.

Next: Worst political scandal. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I've got to say Mr. Clean, Governor Eliot Spitzer's $500-an-hour call girl that cost him the governorship.

MS. CROWLEY: It was more than that, Pat. It was like $4,300.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, $5,000 is less --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You should not be the expert on this subject.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a working number. Keep going, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: It cost Mr. Clean the governorship. It's a scandal somebody who, frankly, I think, thought and may have been well on his way to national office.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, what cost him -- what was doomsday for him is that he had legislated and scoffed at and ridiculed prostitution --

MR. BUCHANAN: Prostitution. He went after them, right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was the hypocrisy that --

MR. BUCHANAN: That's the hypocrisy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- sealed his doom more than anything.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, there were so many scandals. I mean, Spitzer was kind of overtaken by Senator Ted Stevens and all the favors that he absorbed without reporting.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, that's evaporated, hasn't it?

MS. CLIFT: Right. And then that was overtaken by the Illinois governor auctioning off Senate seats --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you're not putting Stevens in the same class as Spitzer.

MS. CLIFT: There are a whole line of scandals here -- change you could pay for, you could call what's happening in Illinois. But I think the scandal that took in Mort -- any scandal that can take in Mort --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Madoff.

MS. CLIFT: -- has got to be at the top of the list. (Laughs.)

MS. CROWLEY: Worst scandal is the failure of the two Financial Services Committee chairmen, Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, failure to blow the whistle on Fannie and Freddie, which was the virus that started this whole financial meltdown.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: True.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I have two possibilities. One of them was Governor Spitzer and his dalliance, and the other one was the real disaster that kicked off this whole thing, the disaster in housing, and that was Fannie and Freddie, and that they were allowed to get away with it -- not just the politicians, but the people who ran that company who were basically political appointees and made millions and millions of dollars. It's going to cost this country $500 billion to cure that problem.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst political scandal: Governor John Edwards, vice presidential candidate in 2004 and unsuccessful candidate for president in 2008. In a candid TV interview, Edwards admitted to infidelity. At the time, his wife was cancer-stricken.

Okay, most underreported story. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's the radical associations of Barack Obama and the Chicago political machine, that corrupt machine, out of which he came. We should have known an awful lot more about Blagojevich and gang before this election.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I don't think we've tied Obama to Blagojevich. Obama comes out of the good-government wing of Illinois --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: -- such as it is. I recall a whole Republican campaign waged on Obama's associations.

MR. BUCHANAN: This is what I'm talking about. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: I don't think it was undercovered. The undercovered story was the budding economic meltdown. Where were the regulators? Where was the press? Where was the financial press? Everybody was asleep.

MS. CROWLEY: Most underreported story is the success of the surge in Iraq and the political reconciliation that's happened there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well-stated, Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Thank you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The emergence and the growing political power and military force of the drug cartels in Mexico that now threaten the very stability of the government right to our south.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is a repeat of Buchanan. The most underreported story of 2008: Tony Rezko's affiliation with Barack Obama. Reporters let Obama brush off legit questions about his affiliation with Rezko as a, quote, "bone-headed mistake." That's what Obama said.

How did Obama know to turn to Rezko? Did he know that Rezko was Blagojevich's bag man and would get money for politicians in return for doing favors for Rezko? Did Obama manage to rise untainted from the cess pool of Chicago politics, or is he stained? We don't know. The press didn't cover it enough.

Most overreported story. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Bristol Palin's pregnancy. You all did a tremendous job covering that one, Eleanor -- (laughs) -- the pregnancy of the daughter of Sarah Palin and the huge explosion that caused at the Republican Convention --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the alcoholism in Alaska.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- the Republican Convention, going after her personal life.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: As I recall, she brought the family on stage and celebrated the family --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, Eleanor, don't rebut.

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me -- and is unapologetic. And that's her prerogative.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No rebuttal. I'm declaring rebuttals off-limits or we'll never get through this.

MS. CLIFT: Overreported story -- overreported story: Rezko on this show, but broadly, Sarah Palin's shopping spree.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Most overreported is Obama as Lincoln, FDR and the Messiah all rolled into one.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You heard about overreporting the Palin shopping spree.

MS. CROWLEY: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a good point, right? That's on your side.

MS. CROWLEY: Yes, yes, absolutely.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think the most overreported story was the whole primary campaign on both sides. I was so exhausted by it by the time it was over, I couldn't follow it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most overreported story --

MS. CLIFT: Everybody else loved it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- of 2000 (sic/means 2008) is the story that growth in China would pull the world through the current recession. Well, it turns out that growth in China is too dependent on exporting goods to America. So when our economy falters -- so does Asia, in fact -- China can't sell its goods in U.S. markets. Its economy craters. China may be more dependent on the U.S. than the U.S. is dependent on China, in fact.

Okay, biggest government waste. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The salvation of Fannie and Freddie. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Reconstruction in Iraq. After all the billions that were spent, a federal report done by the inspector general says that we have not even kept up to where Iraq was before the invasion, and we haven't even rebuilt what we destroyed. Boondoggle.

MS. CROWLEY: Biggest waste: TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, $700 billion to start with. It's now ballooned up to $7.2 trillion in commitments, with no oversight, accountability or effectiveness.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well-stated again, Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Thank you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The $300-plus billion program that supports agricultural prices. It does nothing other than restrict supply, increase prices, enrich a very small sector of the American population, and is done exclusively for political reasons.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The biggest government waste: Federal rebates from the IRS. They were supposed to stimulate consumer demand. Consumer spending was supposed to draw us out of the economic slump. But consumers, instead of buying, saved. So in terms of the government objective, the rebates became a multibillion-dollar waste.

Okay, best government dollar spent. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: FBI, CIA, Secret Service, all the guys that have protected us from bombings for seven long years since 9/11.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I give it to PEPFAR, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. President Bush has done a lot for global health, more than any recent president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's that PEPFAR again? Don't look at --

MS. CLIFT: PEPFAR.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?

MS. CLIFT: PEPFAR -- President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's foreign aid.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She came through -- quick study. Quickly.

MS. CROWLEY: Eleanor is right. She's right, because President Bush has done more for Africa than any other president.

Okay, what am I doing? Best government money spent on the unmanned drones. They're taking out al Qaeda in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan without putting American lives at risk.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are drones?

MS. CROWLEY: Unmanned drones. They're high-flying aircraft.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I thought those were birds. No? They're not --

MS. CROWLEY: They're high-flying aircraft, taking out the al Qaeda on the ground.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The best government money spent was David Petraeus's salary.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well-stated. Well-stated.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He did a brilliant job, both in Iraq and I'm sure will handle as well as the CENTCOM commander.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best government dollar spent again: Federal rebates from the IRS; same as before, biggest waste -- best dollar spent. Consumers got to keep the rebates if they wished or spend them if they wished -- a victory for liberty. So, from the perspective of the individual recipient, this was money put to good use instead of letting the government waste it. Great, huh?

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got an exegesis on every point. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, boldest political tactic. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: John McCain down 10 points going into his convention, picks an unknown governor of Alaska and shoots back into the lead in two weeks.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bold. Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Obama campaign aggressively challenging the early caucus states, which is where he built up his lead of delegates that Hillary was never able to overcome.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Barack Obama forgoing public financing for his campaign.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, I've got to agree with Pat. Picking Sarah Palin was just the biggest and best political move McCain could have made.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Boldest political tactic: Barack Obama's appointment of Hillary Clinton as secretary of State after he spent the entire Democratic primary season criticizing her judgment on foreign policy. This is political pragmatism at its boldest and its best. Right on, Obama.

Okay, best idea of 2008. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The surge.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The surge.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Obama forgoing public financing and raising record amounts of money over the Internet and using the Internet to create a movement of citizens that he will now have backing his presidency.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Best idea: Lifting the ban on offshore drilling.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The dramatic transformation of the Federal Reserve to save the financial system of the United States and prevent us from having a huge crash.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best idea of 2008: Price-gouging -- the airline industry, wholesale food suppliers, trash haulers. Virtually every American corporation utilized the temporary high spike in oil prices to ram through extra fees for baggage charges, for fuel, for surcharges, all gouging to the consumer. Almost overnight, the airlines went from being in the red to being in the black. Profits from price-gouging and extra fees soared, not only in the airlines but in industries across the country. Price-gouging is profitable.

Okay, worst idea of 2008. Satire, Buchanan. You got it? (Laughter.)

MR. BUCHANAN: That was excellent satire, John.

John McCain. "Look, what I've got to do is suspend my campaign, cancel the debate, fly back to Washington, get behind a $700 billion bailout that the country opposes 200 to 1, go back on the road and have the Republicans reject it." Worst idea of the whole campaign, any campaign I can think of, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: That was my candidate too, but my runner-up is sending Bill Clinton to campaign in South Carolina, where he shot his mouth off and hurt his wife's campaign.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Worst idea of 2008 is kicking the issue of the Iranian nuclear program down the road to the next president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Anybody who bought stocks in the first four months of this year before the market dropped about 40 percent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst idea: McCain's decision to announce that he agreed with President Bush 90 percent of the time.

Okay, sorry to see you go. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Tim Russert and Jesse Helms; old friend of mine, Jesse, and Tim, a very good friend of mine.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I second on Tim Russert. But sorry to see you go, somebody who's still very much with us is Chris Shays, who was the last Republican congressman in New England, a moderate Republican, a very good guy -- not the Republican I'd like to see lose. He would not be at the top of my list.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's with us.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, he's very much alive.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.

MS. CLIFT: He just lost his seat, and the Republicans lost --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right, right.

MS. CLIFT: -- their last congressman in New England.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Sorry to see you go. I've got two on opposite ideological poles -- Paul Newman on the left and William F. Buckley on the right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Point well-taken.

Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I was going to say either what Pat said or what Eleanor said. But I will say, to my mind, it is the diminished role of newspapers in our public dialogue.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sorry to see you go, capitalism. It will be the ultimate casualty of the global economic crisis of 2008. Governments everywhere are implementing socialist measures. The golden era of capitalism is kaput. Managed capitalism is what rules.

MR. BUCHANAN: Is that satire too? (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's real, Pat.

Fifteen minutes of fame. Pat, quickly.

MR. BUCHANAN: Joe the Plumber. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Oh, Joe the Plumber.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There are shorter fame periods. Go ahead, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I second Joe the Plumber.

MS. CROWLEY: Okay, I have a different one than Joe the Plumber -- Ashley Dupree, also known as Kristen the hooker with the heart of gold in the Eliot Spitzer case.

MR. BUCHANAN: Forty-three hundred dollars, did you say? (Laughs.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Forty-three hundred dollars and going up. But anyway, I support Joe the Plumber.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fifteen minutes of fame: Ron Paul. He was the true maverick in the GOP primaries. He developed a cult-like following of dedicated supporters. His 15 minutes is up. Sorry to see you go, Ron.

Okay, best spin of the year. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: "I can no more turn my back on my pastor, Reverend Wright, than I can turn my back on my white grandmother" --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: -- just before Reverend Wright went under the bus. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Sarah Palin. "I have international experience because I can see Russia from my front porch," and "A mayor is kind of like a community organizer, except with real responsibilities."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think she said front porch.

MR. BUCHANAN: She didn't say front porch.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think she said an island in the sea separating us from blah, blah, blah.

MR. BUCHANAN: "You can see Russia from Alaska," yeah.

MS. CLIFT: I can't separate Tina Fey and Sarah Palin. But that was the intent of her remarks --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I think it's a misattribution nevertheless, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: -- that she was geographically close to Russia.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly, Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Best spin: ACORN isn't engaging in vote fraud on behalf of any candidate.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Sarah Palin justifying her new wardrobe for political purposes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. Best spin of the year: The spin that Obama's Illinois Senate career in his two years in the U.S. Senate provided him with experience necessary to be president. People believed it. They voted for him. And now we'll see whether the spin is true or untrue.

Okay, the most honest person of the year, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Ron Paul.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica -- excuse me, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Colin Powell, in his endorsement of Barack Obama, indicted his party for having moved too far to the right and chided both parties for being dismissive of Muslims. He spoke out at a critical time in the campaign.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Some people think he's a turncoat.

MS. CLIFT: Well, some people think he's a hero. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Perspective.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: General David Petraeus, who spoke about the great successes of the surge in Iraq, but he always tempered it, never sugar-coated it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, who called the problems in the financial world well ahead of anybody else.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most honest person of the year: Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, who testified in Congress that he had made mistakes regarding the financial system's capacity to self-regulate.

Most overrated. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Rudy was going to sweep the primary states. He had a very bad year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rudy Giuliani.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, Rudy Giuliani. But I'll say this. He had the second-best convention speech of them all, next to Sarah Palin's.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: That's because it was almost as pugilistic as the one you gave in '92.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here we go.

MS. CLIFT: I give it to the Wall Street masters of the universe -- Lehman Brothers, AIG, Bear Stearns, Henry Paulson, Chris Cox, the chairman of the SEC, the whole lot of them.

MS. CROWLEY: And I will give it to one that Eleanor did not identify: Citigroup's Robert Rubin, who went from being the golden boy of high finance to just another embattled money guy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The man who invented debt, which became so popular this year and brought about the collapse of every Wall Street investment banking firm.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most overrated: Alan Greenspan, who was credited with presiding over a powerful economic expansion that turned out to be one of the most catastrophic bubbles in American history.

The most underrated. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic Party, who presided over the recapture of the entire Congress in 2006, 50-state strategy. His primary strategy aided Barack Obama getting the nomination, made him president of the United States. They got the White House, both houses of Congress in four years, and nobody's giving him any credit.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why has he evaporated?

MR. BUCHANAN: Ask Eleanor. It's not my party. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Howard Dean is also my candidate for underrated. He was the first to pioneer the 50-state strategy, which Obama picked up on. He's not a natural campaign insider. He's basically a doctor who speaks his mind, and he hasn't created the kind of bonds within the party that get him rewarded. He would have loved to have been secretary of Health and Human Services. Tom Daschle got it. He was in the Obama campaign early.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think it's typical Democratic ingratitude?

MS. CLIFT: No, I don't. I think it's typical political ingratitude, and that is endemic in both parties.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you going to address the Howard Dean issue?

MS. CROWLEY: No. No, actually I'm going overseas for this award. Most underrated I give to the Chinese president, Hu Jintao. He's quietly building new alliances with Cuba and Venezuela. He's building up his military. And he also pulled off the Olympics this summer most spectacularly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he hasn't been nice to the Tibetans, has he?

MS. CROWLEY: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most underrated. Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The American voter, who voted an African-American for the first time to the nomination of a major party and then voted him in as the president of the United States, despite many people who were skeptical that would ever happen in this country at this time.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most underrated: The effectiveness of the CIA and our foreign intelligence services in preventing terrorism. One after another, top al Qaeda leaders were eliminated by Predator drones in 2008. Plots have been disrupted before being put even into action. The Mumbai massacre plot was even detected in advance, but Indian authorities failed to heed the warning. Here's a bouquet to the CIA and our U.S. foreign intelligence services.

Okay, macro-prediction. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The rise of economic nationalism and the rise of protectionism with the global financial collapse is going to put an end to the global economy, I think. And the main feature of the coming years is going to be economic clashing between China and the United States of America.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: This is the end of the age of ideology everywhere except perhaps on this show. Barack Obama's election represents the rise of intelligence blended with pragmatism, rationality --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.) (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: You disagree? (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Stop scorning Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: And it is a new age in political wisdom.

MR. BUCHANAN: You're suggesting we're stupid, Eleanor. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: No, I didn't say stupid. The end of ideology is what I said.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly, Monica. Please do not rebut. She's talking about the leftist tinge of this show, you know? (Laughter.) Keep going, quickly. Quickly.

MS. CROWLEY: All right, my macro-prediction is that the global economic crisis will spark this new wave of spirituality, on the one hand, and also a new wave of terrorism, on the other.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wow, spirituality.

Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The end of the age of inflation. We are going to go into several years of deflation, and that's going to transform the economy of this country, particularly debt.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Macro-prediction: 2009 will be the year when it will gradually dawn on U.S. policymakers that the cause of the global economic crisis is globalism itself. The premise that, as we shifted jobs to developing countries, new jobs would develop here to replace them is false. It is not possible to shift production jobs and service jobs to low-cost countries without hollowing out the purchasing power of the middle class. The torture question is, once policymakers realize the global economic system is unsustainable, what will replace it?

Okay, New Year's resolutions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Visit Normandy for the first time.

MS. CLIFT: I resolve to continue to adapt to the changing media environment as best I can, now that I'm a multiplatform content provider instead of a reporter. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: I'm going to throw my hat into the New York Senate race.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're multiplatform too.

MS. CROWLEY: (Laughs.) Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I want to find a new way to celebrate my daughter's birthday.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My New Year's resolution: In our increasingly propagandized spin-machine world, I resolve to keep the McLaughlin Group a beacon of truth.

Happy New Year. Bye-bye.

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