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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, WASHINGTON TIMES; CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 26-27, 2009

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ANNOUNCER: It's the 28th annual McLaughlin Group year-end awards, 2009, part one. Here's the master of ceremonies, John McLaughlin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Biggest winner of 2009, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sarah Palin, John. A star is reborn.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Great.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Michelle Obama, who brought her style and her spirit to the White House and is being rewarded with approval ratings approaching 70 percent. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also great.

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: The terrorist regime of Iran, which marches unobstructed toward a nuclear weapon, supports terror through Hamas and Hezbollah, and slaughters its own people in the streets, and there's no consequence from the United States.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting.

Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Wall Street bankers -- much better than last year. Maybe they'll share the wealth next year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe.

The envelope, please, Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: The envelope, please. The only thing missing from this ensemble is a bagpipe. You failed to accessorize.

MR. PAGE: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you like my plaids?

How about you, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: As I said, there's some horse out at Pimlico, John, that's freezing to death. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. There's a --

MR. PAGE: I've got to find a tie to match you, John.

MS. CLIFT: That's the Jack Germond memorial line. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The biggest winner of 2009: China. Why? Because the U.S., the world's number one superpower, depended so much on China this year, the world's number two superpower.

The U.S. wish list to China: One, please buy more U.S. debt. Two, please buy more U.S. goods. Three, please stop devaluing your currency.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Four, please help curb Iran's nuclear military capability, if any.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.) (Laughs.) MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now add to this China's economic growth rate this year of 9 percent and you have a China as the world's biggest winner. I repeat: China, the biggest winner of 2009.

Now, the biggest loser, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Tiger Woods -- 14 under par.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The American worker -- unemployment, 10.2 percent.

MS. CROWLEY: Mmm, very good.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: American free-market capitalism under assault by a far-left administration and a far-left Congress.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Poor Dede Scozzafava, the endorsed Republican candidate, 23rd district, upstate New York -- about the only Republican that lost this year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The biggest loser of 2009: Sadly, President Barack Obama. At the beginning of the year, his approval ratings topped 80 percent, nearly universal approval. At the end of 2009, it was below 50 percent. Why? Because he scattered his energies across too broad a range of issues.

Okay, best politician, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: General Stanley McChrystal rolls the president of the United States and turns an anti-war president into a war president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Bob McDonnell, conservative, Virginia; won the governor's seat by running as a moderate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: I give it to the entire Republican Party, which was left for dead last year after last year's elections and has made like Lazarus, winning elections in New Jersey and Virginia and Pennsylvania and staying united in opposing the Democrats' health care, cap and trade, and stimulus.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence, what do you say to that? MR. PAGE: I give it to Nancy Pelosi. At least she got the public option through her house.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best politician of 2009 -- hold on to this -- Dick Cheney. For eight years he was George W. Bush's vice president. Today he's the perfect messenger for the claim that President Obama is too naive to make decisions on national security. Also Cheney, more than anyone else, is holding the Republican Party together.

Okay, worst politician, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Lloyd Blankfein. "Here at Goldman Sachs, we do God's work." (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I can't top that.

New York Governor David Paterson, who didn't get Caroline Kennedy's appointment to the Senate right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: I'm giving it to the entire Democratic Party, because, in defiance of the American people's wishes, they are intent on ramming through big-government, big-spending, high-tax, anti-growth policies like health care. And even though they lost those three elections I mentioned this year, they are intent on marching their party off the cliff.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Hamid Karzai. I mean, the guy wins with a stolen election and then goes and flouts the whole thing in the face of the country that's out to try to help him save his government. I mean, he goes, as far as I'm concerned.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst politician: Britain's prime minister, Gordon Brown. Brown released convicted Pan Am 103 bomber al-Megrahi without formally notifying President Obama in advance.

Okay, the most defining political moment, Pat. MR. BUCHANAN: Sergeant James Crowley wins the beer summit with Barack Obama and Professor Gates.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, the year began in January, and I think the inauguration deserves some mention; 1.8 million people attended that in Washington. But I fear the most defining moment was the decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Unemployment soaring over 10 percent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: The backlash movement known as the tea baggers, who kind of asked for that name and now they regret it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most defining political moment: Tom Daschle not becoming Health and Human Services secretary because he had failed to pay income taxes. Daschle's knack for working both sides of the aisle would have meant health-care reform months ago.

Okay, turncoat of the year. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Arlen Specter; 20 points behind Toomey, rats out and joins the Democratic Party. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent choice.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Joe Lieberman. And he's a repeat offender. (Laughter.) I'm sure he'll win it many times more.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting.

Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Eleanor beat me to Joe Lieberman. And he's so far ahead of whoever's in second place, I can't think of anybody else. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I give you the turncoat of the year. It's the Democratic senator from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter. Specter served nearly 30 years in the Senate as a Republican. This year Specter switched parties, became a Democrat. And the most boring, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's not the most boring now. It's the most charismatic, isn't it, John, coming up?

MS. CROWLEY: Most boring.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most boring.

MR. BUCHANAN: Most boring. I'll give it to Harry Reid, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You trying to throw off the sequence, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: He wins the Lieberman-Greenspan trophy for this year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: And I'll give it to his counterpart in the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell -- broken record, party of no. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: President Barack Obama, who went from most charismatic to most boring in the space of a year. People are going, "Where was that charismatic guy we saw on the campaign trail?"

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: I give it to the Republican congressional leadership in both houses. Most Americans can't even name them, they're so boring, bless their hearts. But Michael Steele's doing what he can to put some excitement into the GOP these days.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most boring -- you can't even remember their names.

MR. PAGE: Up against -- (inaudible) -- wall, they disappear.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most boring: Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal. Last February he went on national TV to rebut President Obama's State of the Union address. Jindal bombed, and his presidential hopes have bombed with him. But Jindal can recover.

Okay, most charismatic.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yulia Tymoshenko. She's going to be the next president of Ukraine, John. Have you seen pictures? (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I've seen pictures, and I know her from years past. MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, you do?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's had a long career in politics.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, she has.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's a tough lady, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: She's a very attractive lady, John. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there you are.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Maybe there's a place for her on this set. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Along with you, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Right, absolutely.

I go for Neda, the Iranian girl who was brutally murdered and whose memory continues to inspire the protest movement in Iran.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Pat sounds like he's got a crush; I don't know.

Most charismatic. I'm going to give it to the late Michael Jackson, who proved that, even in death, nobody could command a stage like he did.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: True. And "This Is It" is worth seeing.

MS. CROWLEY: I saw it twice.

MR. PAGE: Yeah, really.

Anyway, John, I say Barack Obama and Sarah Palin in a tie this year. I think Sarah Palin has become really the most charismatic figure on the other side of the fence, you could say. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, brace yourselves for impact. Are you ready? The most charismatic is Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. (Laughter.)

MR. PAGE: Look out. Look out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: His cool reserve creates an aura that has its own nerdy charm and authenticity. Call it geek charisma.

Okay, bummest rap. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Democratic smears of the town-hall protesters as thugs, Nazis and evil-doers.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Death panels -- bummest rap. Death panels. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Bummest rap: Nancy Pelosi accusing the CIA of lying to Congress about the enhanced interrogation techniques used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and some other al Qaeda terrorists.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: That Obama is a socialist. It just doesn't go away, does it?

MR. PAGE: No, but it's not the bummest rap. The bummest rap is Jimmy Carter's charge that if you oppose Barack Obama, you are a racist.

Okay, fairest rap.

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama's policies are socialist. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The Republican Party is a party of no. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Bummest rap -- that the Obama administration has not adequately championed human rights in China, Iran and Darfur.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fairest rap --

MS. CROWLEY: Fairest rap. Fairest rap.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fairest rap. MR. PAGE: Fox News sounds like an arm of the Republican Party. It only sounds like it. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it was a mistake?

MR. PAGE: What, a mistake?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. PAGE: No. Tactically, no. But I think it's rather -- well, there's a -- let's just say that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Assuming that the charge is true, was it a mistake to let it drift so far in that direction, if it is so far?

MR. PAGE: Well, Fox News -- most of Fox News is a news channel, but primetime is where it sounds like an arm of the Republicans.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fairest rap: The rap against soccer player Elizabeth Lambert. She was caught on tape viciously yanking one player by the hair and slamming her to the ground, Pat. Sounds like this group.

Okay, best comeback.

MR. BUCHANAN: Dick Cheney. You had it right earlier, John. Dick Cheney's comeback of the year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Susan Boyle, the British housewife who became an instant celebrity, then sort of had a nervous breakdown. Her first DVD sold 1.6 million copies, the biggest sale in Britain ever. It's called "I Have a Dream." She's back.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's so cheery to hear that called to our attention. Don't you think, Monica?

MS. CROWLEY: Yes, very heartwarming, and true. I'm a SuBo fan too.

I have to agree with Pat on this -- Dick Cheney; thoughtful, responsible and right about the Obama administration's national- security decisions.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best comeback, huh?

MS. CROWLEY: He's back.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: I wouldn't count on him running again in 2012. (Laughs.) MS. CLIFT: Right. (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: Sarah Palin. She had a much better year this year than last year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, it's obvious that the best comeback is the Republican Party itself. At the start of 2009, pundits wrote, including you, Clarence, that the party was all washed up. They talked about a Democratic realignment. But within six months, the GOP had taken the lead in voter preference -- six months.

Pat, original thinker.

MR. BUCHANAN: Bob Merry, a friend of mine, does justice to James K. Polk in a great new biography; a great president -- 11th president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why, because he acquired a lot of real estate?

MR. BUCHANAN: Because he expanded the country by one-third in four years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Louisiana Purchase?

MR. BUCHANAN: That would be Jefferson, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The creators of Twitter -- Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams and Biz Stones (sic/means Stone). (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CLIFT: You heard it here first.

MR. PAGE: Heaven help us.

MS. CROWLEY: Most original thinker -- okay, President Obama and Vice President Biden for coming up with this wispy concept of jobs saved. That was very original. They claimed that the stimulus created or saved 600,000 jobs. But we have lost 3.5 million jobs since the stimulus was signed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's the most original thinker, Clarence?

MR. PAGE: Well, I don't have all the names, but ProPublica, the Chicago news co-op, all the not-for-profit media ventures that are coming back in the age of the Internet now, especially to revive investigative reporting. This is going to be the wave of the future, I think.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it's going to drive newspapers away? MR. PAGE: Well, newspapers are going to still be around. It's just that they're going to be Internet companies that happen to put out a newspaper on the side. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, like our Australian friend Rupert, right?

MR. PAGE: Rupert Murdoch.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most original thinker: Harvard University astrophysicist Dr. Willie Soon's research on the sun may completely revise our theories on what causes global warming.

Sun what?

MR. BUCHANAN: Spots.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sun spots. Very good, Pat.

Okay, most stagnant thinker.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's not sun spots.

The most stagnant thinker goes right into it, John -- Al Gore. Enough with the end-times rhetoric, please. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Most stagnant thinker -- a dual award. On national security, Dick Cheney; and on climate change, Senator James Inhofe, who's the head of the global climate-change deniers -- Pat's hero. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, do you think Gore's career is completely over?

MS. CROWLEY: This is all --

MS. CLIFT: No.

MS. CROWLEY: Well, this is all interrelated, because --

MS. CLIFT: Gore's career is not over. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean as a politician.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.

MS. CLIFT: I don't think he wants to run again. He's had more impact on --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you ever find a politician who didn't -- MS. CLIFT: -- political life outside of elected office.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know of any politicians that don't want to run again?

MR. BUCHANAN: James K. Polk. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One term. He announced it at the beginning.

MR. BUCHANAN: One term. Exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's why he was elected.

MS. CROWLEY: That tells you where Pat is coming from.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MS. CROWLEY: I was going to give it to Al Gore also, but I'll broaden it out and say most stagnant thinker are all these global- warming scientists who are sticking to their guns about man-made climate change even though the science now looks like it all could have been a fraud.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence, quickly.

MR. PAGE: Michael Steele -- great guy to know, but as far as his ideas, they're kind of old.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most stagnant thinker: Proponents of denuclearization; in other words, a world without nuclear weapons. Forget about it. It will never happen. Instead we should hope for MAD, M-A-D, mutually assured destruction. Do you understand that, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure, a 1950s concept. I understand that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. It'll work.

Okay, best photo op.

MR. BUCHANAN: Balloon boy flying across Colorado. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: President Obama at Dover Air Force Base acknowledging the caskets of the fallen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, he saluted.

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Air Force One taking a joy ride over Lower Manhattan and sending Manhattanites screaming into the streets. (Laughter.) MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence. Were you there?

MS. CROWLEY: Yes, I was.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Not exactly a photo op anybody wants to have.

Well, you can't beat Obama's swearing-in ceremony. That was the most historic picture of the year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The best photo op was Democratic President Obama warmly embracing Florida Republican Governor Charlie Crist. The photo may kill Crist's chances of becoming the Republicans' choice for the U.S. Senate seat next year -- Obama's Judas kiss.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right?

Okay. Enough, already.

MR. PAGE: (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Enough, already?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "Enough, already" award.

MR. BUCHANAN: Enough, already -- Levi Johnston -- (laughs) -- son-in-law of Sarah Palin, the cover boy of Playmate or whatever that women's magazine is -- Levi.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's also in, what, Twitter?

MR. PAGE: Everywhere.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's got his own website?

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Enough of the lovesick ramblings of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and his soulmate in Argentina. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

Well, you know they've split up now. Monica.

MS. CLIFT: Congratulations to the wife.

MS. CROWLEY: Enough with socialism.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear that?

MS. CROWLEY: Yes, I heard that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead.

MS. CROWLEY: Enough with socialism. It's failed everywhere it's been tried, socialism. It's enough, already.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, how do you like managed socialism that we're getting in the United States?

MS. CROWLEY: Well, this is what I'm saying. It's enough, already.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: That's why Social Security and Medicare are still third-rail issues, right?

Anyway, the birther movement -- enough, already. He was born a citizen. Deal with it. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Enough, already.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's in Kenya, Clarence -- Kenya.

MR. PAGE: Yeah, right. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, contain yourself.

Free trade -- enough, already -- a bad idea. That's right, a bad idea. During the worst economic crisis since World War II, and when unemployment is double-digit, free trade is not the golden fleece. Limited protectionism is the golden fleece.

Okay, worst lie, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: "I was hiking on the Appalachian Trail." (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who said it?

MR. BUCHANAN: Mark Sanford, Governor Sanford.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, he didn't say it. He left that with his -- MR. BUCHANAN: He was down in Argentina.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he left that for his staff to say.

MR. BUCHANAN: Okay. "He's hiking on the Appalachian Trail."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, my first choice was the birthers as the worst lie, but I'm going to expand that also, the notion that President Obama is a socialist. He's not even that much of a liberal. And to also play off of some conversation here today, the notion that global warming/climate change has been disproved as science is a complete lie.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I didn't say that. I said --

MS. CLIFT: You didn't say that. Others did. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- trace it to a different cause.

MS. CROWLEY: This is the fall of the church of Gore, Eleanor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MS. CROWLEY: Worst lie -- worst lie: "I have no interest in running the auto companies." (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst lie.

MR. PAGE: Worst lie, that Obama is a Muslim, because it's not only untrue, but it implies there's something wrong with being a Muslim.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst lie: "Obama won't raise taxes on the middle class." Well, taxes are already in the pipeline from his proposed cap-and-trade legislation to a potential national sales tax or a VAT tax.

Okay, capitalist of the year.

MR. BUCHANAN: Collective award to Goldman Sachs. You've got to give it to them, John. They come back every time. They make money whatever the situation is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who heads that up?

MR. BUCHANAN: Blankfein, my friend. "Here we do God's work." (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor. MS. CLIFT: Capitalist of the year is Sarah Palin, who turned a failed vice presidential bid into a whole cottage industry about herself and is making millions. (Laughs.

)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MS. CROWLEY: Capitalist of the year -- I'm going to give it to the Chinese communists -- how's that for irony? -- because they weathered the global recession better than anybody else because they did a targeted stimulus and cut taxes and have a 9 percent growth rate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: You beat me to it, Monica. I just came back from China, and you are so right. They are practicing capitalism right now. They're using it to save socialism. And they are probably in a real-estate bubble. We'll see next year. But this year, you're right, they've been performing --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you sense that on the street? Can you sense it in the common man that the freedom -- that the freedom that goes with capitalism is there?

MR. PAGE: In eastern China, yeah. I mean, it's just rampant. It's on the streets. People -- even the school kids I was talking to, this one kid says, "I want to be rich," quoting Deng Xiaoping. I mean, it's in western China that's bad. But we're not allowed to go there. We're not allowed to see it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're got to talk more about that with you later.

Capitalist of the year: Alan Mulally, CEO, Ford. In an historically disastrous year for the American auto industry, Alan led Ford to $1 billion earnings last quarter, and the Ford Fusion is the car that one the quality award of the year.

Honorable mention, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sully. He lands that plane on the Hudson River, saves every single passenger, goes up and down the aisles while the plane is sitting there in the Hudson River, makes sure everybody's off. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did he say?

MR. BUCHANAN: What'd he say?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "Brace for impact."

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Vice President Joe Biden, who was the counterweight in the debate over Afghanistan, restraining the president to what extent he could from overescalating the war in Afghanistan. And Joe Biden started out the year with a lot of people, like Pat, thinking that we could laugh at him throughout the year and he was a big joke. He's no joke. He's a serious player in this administration.

MS. CROWLEY: I'm giving my honorable mention to a woman that Eleanor mentioned previously, Neda, who is that Iranian woman who was slaughtered in the streets of Iran during the beginning of the uprising against the terrorist regime there. And she was slaughtered in the streets, and her voice lives on. And that Iranian revolution, which is ongoing to this day, is the most important international development of the year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Those are all good choices.

I just have to add the Dalai Lama for his patience this year. He agreed to put off meeting with President Obama so that Obama wouldn't offend the Chinese with being reminded of their human-rights abuses. It's a remarkable sacrifice that he has gone through here. So let's show some love to the Dalai.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Great, Clarence.

Honorable mention. Try not to gag when you hear this selection, please Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: All right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, because Paris may soon be the financial capital of Europe. That's because Sarkozy seized on Britain's current economic weakness and he moved France into the control position of the European Union. That brilliant power shift could define the future of the continent and give France once again the look, at least the look, of whom?

MS. CROWLEY: Charles DeGaulle.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Charles DeGaulle. Right on. Do you think that's possible, that kind of an image of France again? MR. BUCHANAN: No, it's not possible.

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. BUCHANAN: Europe is on the way down and on the way out, except for economic, really. It's headed to a retirement home, John. I mean, the birth rate down there doesn't even reach replacement levels.

MS. CLIFT: Old Europe remains one of our faithful allies, and they have been critical in helping the world recover. And I think Sarkozy is talking about a carbon tax. They're leading the way on climate change as well.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let 'em lead. (Laughs.)

MS. CROWLEY: And I will -- I'll back you up on the --

MS. CLIFT: We're going to be following.

MS. CROWLEY: I'll back you up on the Sarkozy choice, because he has been the leading voice against Iran's nuclear program. He's trying to get his fellow Europeans on board with tougher sanctions. And actually, he's behind trying to utz President Obama with more aggressive action on Iran.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You were just in China.

MR. PAGE: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think -- if you look for the commanding figure on the world stage of world leaders, do you think that Hu Jintao might be that commanding person?

MR. PAGE: I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's our own leader, Barack Obama? Do you think it's Silvio Berlusconi? Do you think it's Angela Merkel of Germany? Who do you think is the dominant figure? And to get back, is it Hu Jintao?

MR. PAGE: Interesting group. I think Hu Jintao is kind of becoming the world's creditor, so that gives him clout. But he's too camera-shy. You know, the fact that he didn't want to answer questions at that news conference with Obama is indicative of what holds him back.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, your list --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Medvedev of Russia? Do you think --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, your list makes a good point. None of them are. Quite clearly, nobody stands out. Obama did, head and shoulders above anybody, but he's lost 20 points. And so nobody really stands out today.

MS. CLIFT: He hasn't lost 20 points in world approval. I think the world is still looking to this country for leadership and to the president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you had to settle in Europe, which country would you settle in? Would it be Spain?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, Spain is really heading down to the dumpster. So is Greece. So is -- Italy's got terrible troubles. I'll tell you where I'd settle. I'd settle, frankly, in London, even though they've got serious problems. I think London's still a great, great capital.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Munich or Berlin?

MR. BUCHANAN: You know, I think the Germans are -- all of Europe is headed down. Militarily, they are nothing. They do have a big economy, but it's --

MR. PAGE: They've got us to protect them. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How far can we wander? Is South Africa doing anything with the world crisis?

MR. BUCHANAN: It's headed downhill too.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Downhill?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.

MR. PAGE: Actually --

MS. CLIFT: Pat's view is the whole world is headed downhill.

MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, no, China is headed up; there's no doubt about it. India's headed up.

MS. CLIFT: Okay, so we'll all relocate to Beijing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you really want to go to Bombay or --

MS. CLIFT: I'd like to visit, but I don't think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Delhi? Wouldn't you want to live in Delhi now?

MS. CLIFT: Not particularly.

MR. PAGE: Mumbai is a comer.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Huh?

MR. PAGE: Mumbai is a comer. They're moving up. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: India has still a strong growth rate.

MR. PAGE: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's second to China.

MS. CROWLEY: It does. And it's also going to pass China in terms of population growth. By 2025, they're going to surpass China with 1.4 billion. But, you know, what I think is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where do you want to live? Where do you want to live, if you had to live outside the United States?

MS. CROWLEY: Oh, you put that condition on there. I was going to say that what this conversation shows is that the United States is still the greatest nation on the face of the earth and we're all lucky to live here. If you put it --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, now, please, let's not gag with --

MS. CROWLEY: If you had to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- gagging nationalism. What is this?

MS. CROWLEY: If you had to ask me -- I mean, I sort of agree with Pat.

MS. CLIFT: Brazil. Brazil.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?

MS. CROWLEY: It's London.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: London?

MS. CROWLEY: Prague, the Czech Republic.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you fundamentally an Anglophile?

MS. CROWLEY: Yes, very much so.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, here it is.

Person of the year. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: General Stanley McChrystal leads America into a brand new war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Hillary Clinton, who's doing a fine job as secretary of State, has a seat at the big boys' table and even shares the diplomatic spotlight with her husband, who freed the two women journalists from North Korea.

MS. CROWLEY: Every member --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: -- of the U.S. military. They turned Iraq around. They're fighting valiantly in Afghanistan. And they protect and defend us every day selflessly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: You beat me to it again, Monica. I'm going to say the same, and their families, for what they've gone through in behalf of all of us.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Person of the year -- Eleanor is right -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She single-handedly negotiated peace between Turkey and Armenia. She pushed Pakistan to go after the terrorists. Her job-approval rating is higher than Obama's. And some believe she ought to challenge Mr. Obama for the presidency in 2012. She remains, however, a loyal member of the Obama team, which is another tribute to her character.

Next week, McLaughlin Group 2009 awards, part two. Merry Christmas and happy holidays. Bye-bye.

END.