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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: nuclear fallout.


REPRESENTATIVE CHRISTOPHER COX (R-CA): (From videotape.) The PRC has mounted a widespread effort to obtain U.S. military technology by any means, legal or illegal.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The NATO bombing of China's embassy three weeks ago in Belgrade is not the only explosion to rock the Chinese. Another warhead detonated against them this week in Washington: the Cox report. Espionage against the U.S. by the People's Republic of China, the PRC, is raining fallout all over the capital. The extent of the damage, direct and collateral, is breathtaking.


Here's the Cox report:


Over the last 20 years the Chinese have stolen thermonuclear secrets on every single nuclear weapon deployed in the U.S. arsenal, whether on land or in submarines. That's the scary part.


But the really scary part is this: The Chinese are not filing the stolen data away in some nuclear weapons reference library. They are currently building their own high-tech nuclear weapons with their stolen data.


REP. COX: (From videotape.) According to the unanimous judgment of the select committee, the PRC will exploit elements of that stolen U.S. thermonuclear weapons information in its future designs, including a weapon that could be deployed as early as 2002.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And here's something yet more scary: One-third of the Cox committee report was not released to the public. It's still bottled up under White House wraps. President Clinton refused to inform the American people of two dozen fearsome incidents of espionage that would, if made public, greatly embarrass him.


In Clinton's defense, Democrats are pointing to press reports on a classified 1984 memo warning about Chinese nuclear espionage that occurred as early as 1982.


SENATOR TOM DASCHLE (D-SD, Senate minority leader): (From videotape.) As all of you know, this matter goes back to 1982. The Reagan administration did nothing. The Bush administration did nothing. This administration is the first to do something.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This diversionary tactic can muddle matters for a while, but Janet Reno's days may be numbered.


SENATOR RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL): (From videotape.) It's time for new leadership at the Justice Department. I believe that the attorney general ought to resign.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: How much trouble will the Cox report inflict on the Clinton administration, Michael Barone?


MR. BARONE: Well, I think the answer is great trouble, John. I mean, this is, you know -- and not just because the president lied on March 19th when he said he hadn't been informed of this, even though the Cox report had been handed over in the unclassified version on January 3rd. I mean, this subverts -- this is one of two great examples of telling truth to power this week, this and the indictment of Milosevic.


And this report makes it clear that the Chinese have -- are moving in a hostile way to threaten their neighbors. Through their spying they were able to get hold of the small warheads. This is something that they should not have been able to get. That means they'll be able to deliver it faster.


Through the missile program that they got into with Hughes and Loral, and which the Clinton administration had helped along by putting that over in the Commerce Department, they've -- they're developing their missile technology. We helped them do that.


And the Clinton administration, as a matter of policy, sold them 600 high-performance computers. With those they can simulate nuclear tests, and they can continue to observe the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and still develop nuclear weapons to follow through on their threat against Los Angeles in 1996.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think that pretty much covers the waterfront -- (laughter) -- don't you?


MS. CLIFT: Well, I demand equal time.


MR. BLANKLEY: (Off mike.) (Laughter.)


MS. CLIFT: First of all, the answer to your question of how much damage will it do, not as much as the Republicans hope. The rollout to this rivaled "The Phantom Menace," with Chris Cox in the role of Luke Skywalker. But the facts don't bear up.


First of all, this notion of Richard Shelby yelling for Janet Reno's head -- you know, Sandy Berger was briefed. So was Richard Shelby, I believe, in 1997. The intelligence committees on the Hill got the same briefing Sandy Berger did -- the same chart, same slides. If he should resign, so should they.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much trouble will this inflict on the Clinton people?


MR. BLANKLEY: I don't think it's going to have the explosive impact that some people expected or hoped. But I do think it's going to be degrading for the remainder of the Clinton term and going into, if there is one, a Gore term. I think it's going to have an impact on how policymakers both judge China's capabilities and intentions. And for years to come the Clinton team is going to be, I think, punished in the minds of serious people and derivatively, sometimes, in the public by the knowledge of their failure. But I don't think it's the explosive nuclear attack on Clinton that some people thought it might be.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't.


Do you?


MR. KUDLOW: I think this is just one of, you know, many hundreds of cuts that are hurting the Clinton administration.


But I have a somewhat different concern about this. While we're trying to stop the Chinese penetration of our nuclear secrets and maybe our political campaigns as well, I think it's very important that the Congress not stop trade with China. You know, the United States is now buying $70 billion worth a year from China, and in fact two-way trade with China is our fourth largest partner, ahead of Germany and Great Britain.


And let me make this point: Free trade is so vital to our prosperity. Consumer choice and business choice allows us to make the high value-added products and let the other people make the low value-added products. And already Jesse Helms and Fritz Hollings are starting to say, "No WTO." Clinton botched the possible China trade deal, which was a fabulous market-opening --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you talking about WTO?


MR. KUDLOW: Well, I think if China can meet the criteria for WTO in time --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, wasn't that a good deal that was offered to us on WTO by China?


MR. KUDLOW: The Zhu Rongji trade liberalization package would have opened up financial, insurance, manufacturing, farm --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So this is now all kaput? Is that what you're saying?


MR. KUDLOW: Well, that's the problem.


MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)


MR. KUDLOW: And there are too many Republicans and Democrats that want to use this Cox report for protection --


(Cross talk.)


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


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just a moment. Just -- excuse me.


MR. KUDLOW: That will damage our prosperity.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to ask you a question. Do you think that the relationship between China and the United States can be righted?


MR. KUDLOW: I do. And I think it's important that policymakers make a clear line between the nuclear secrets problem and the espionage and all the rest of that, and the trade. We should not shoot ourselves in the foot. This prosperity would be greatly damaged and hindered if we go into protectionism.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. We've got time for one more question. Is it true that the Reagan administration did nothing to try to shut down espionage?


MR. BARONE: I -- the fact is --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me know if you want me to prompt you, Michael.


MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)


MR. BARONE: My understanding is they stepped up efforts. They were stepped down to some extent --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They spent a billion and a half dollars on two operations. One was Tiger Trap, and the other was Cerberus. Are you familiar with those?


MR. BLANKLEY: Those are counterintelligence efforts --




MR. BLANKLEY: -- to -- and --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So what a bum rap we got from Mr. Daschle.


MR. BLANKLEY: And compare that with a couple -- the few score million that the Clinton administration is now assigning to counterintelligence.


No, the Reagan administration spent real money doing everything in their power to stop it.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think -- do you think --


MS. CLIFT: But 90 percent --


MR. BLANKLEY: Everything in their power, Eleanor.


MS. CLIFT: -- 90 percent --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- do you think that Clinton fulfills the textbook definition of a "traitor"?


MR. BLANKLEY: No. I think --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he was bought off by the Chinese?


MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know. I like to think not, but I --


MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible) -- look --


MR. BLANKLEY: -- but he certainly did not focus his considerable intellect in the defense of our interests.


MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.) (Laughs.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he can be bought? Maybe not, but can he be paid? (Laughter.)


(Cross talk, laughter.)


MR. BARONE: Can he be -- the question is --


MS. CLIFT: Well, 90 percent --


MR. KUDLOW: The question is: Can he be rented?


MR. BARONE (?): (Inaudible) -- be bought?


MR. KUDLOW: Can he be rented?


MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think he can be rented?


MR. KUDLOW: Well, I think there is considerable Chinese penetration of the 1996 --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will it rub off on Gore, I ask you?


MS. CLIFT: But first of all, the Cox Commission report and all the other investigations have not tied contributions to any decisions that were made. So that is off the chart.


Second of all --


MR. BLANKLEY: No, wait. Wait, Eleanor.


MS. CLIFT: Second of all --


MR. BLANKLEY: No, wait a second, Eleanor. I am trying --


MS. CLIFT: -- no, I get a chance to talk here now.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish her point, and then I'll you in. Go ahead, Eleanor.


MS. CLIFT: I get a chance to talk here now.


China has 18 nuclear missiles; we have 24 Trident submarines, each with 24 tubes and eight more heads on it. They have a puny nuclear --


MR. BLANKLEY: But it isn't going to -- (inaudible) --


MS. CLIFT: There is no --


MR. BLANKLEY: -- wait, wait, wait --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Eleanor finish! She is the --


MS. CLIFT: -- there is no evidence --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- authority on tubes here. (Laughter.)


MS. CLIFT: -- there is no evidence they are building anything; they are deploying anything. It will take them at least 10 years to do anything.


This hysteria to try to create a new Red menace.




MR. BLANKLEY: Now wait a minute. Wait a minute.


MS. CLIFT: There is a danger to this country --


MR. BLANKLEY: I want to --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Do you want to --


MR. BLANKLEY: -- I want to make a point.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- let him make his point.


MR. KUDLOW: (Inaudible.)


MR. BLANKLEY: Chris Cox dropped the question of investigating the campaign contributions in the interest of getting unanimity between him and the Democrats. It's not for the want of evidence to be searched for.




MS. CLIFT: I am sorry --


MR. BLANKLEY: It's because the Democrats didn't want it.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the final point -- Eleanor --


MS. CLIFT: Hughes gives --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- I want to go to final point for you.


MR. BARONE: Certainly --


MS. CLIFT: Wait. I want to answer his question.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, let's -- let's move on; let's move on.


MS. CLIFT: Hughes gives money to Republicans, Loral gives money to Democrats; it's a wash.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is Clinton hiding one-third of this report, Eleanor?


MS. CLIFT: Because, John, do you know anything about how intelligence is gathered?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that we'll find that one-third --


MS. CLIFT: You have to protect --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the one-third of the report -- outside the Reading Room in the White House?


MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) It's a billing record!


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that is where they will find it?


MS. CLIFT: Very cute, John. But you -- you have --


MR. BARONE: Well, I -- John -- John, now look, the fact is I don't think --


MS. CLIFT: -- no. (Laughs.)


MR. BARONE: -- that there -- the fact is there are reasons to keep some things secret.


MS. CLIFT: Right. Exactly. (Laughs.)


MR. BARONE: I suspect this White House or the National Security Council have abused that for their own political purposes, but so be it. We'll just have to live with that for the time being.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Will Janet Reno survive?


Michael Barone, yes or no? Quickly.


MR. BARONE: I think she will continue to be attorney general.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes or no?


MS. CLIFT: She will survive once again. (Laughs.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes or no?


MR. BLANKLEY: Too soon to tell.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Too soon to tell.


MR. KUDLOW: She'll survive. But to patch up the stealing of secrets, let's abolish the Departments of Energy and Commerce. Those are the big leaks, and we don't need them anyway, and it would save us $20 billion a year, which we could use for tax cuts.


MS. CLIFT: Why don't we just get rid of the Energy Labs too!


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Energy, maybe. Commerce -- I'm not sure about Commerce.


MR. KUDLOW: I say both of them.


MS. CLIFT: That is nonsensical.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: With regard to Janet Reno, the answer is, she will survive because she knows where all the bodies are buried.


What about making speaker Mr. Cox?


MR. KUDLOW: Oh, great idea.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Great idea?


MR. KUDLOW: Great idea. This guy, whom I've known for 20 years, is one of the most talented Republicans in the country. He's a Cool Hand Luke. He's a smart, analytical guy. And you know what? He was able to do what almost no one else could do; he actually created a bipartisan committee --


MS. CLIFT: Yeah, that lasted 10 minutes! (Laughs.)


MR. BARONE: It did not! Eleanor, that is a slur! And it --


MS. CLIFT: Curt Weldon was on television right that afternoon!~ (Laughs.)


MR. BARONE: That was very much a bipartisan committee!


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When we come back -- Eleanor, pay careful attention -- General Norman Schwarzkopf denounces Clinton and says he does not have the right character to lead the war in Kosovo. Is General Schwarzkopf right?


MS. CLIFT: Maybe he'll volunteer for the job!


MR. BARONE: Obviously!




MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Race against time.


VIKTOR CHERNOMYRDIN (Russian special envoy for Kosovo) (Through interpreter): (From videotape.) We knew, we warned, we asked them not to go ahead with this, that this could only complicate the whole process. But it happened against our desire. We will continue those negotiations.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The indictment this week of Slobodan Milosevic as a war criminal may be fully warranted, but it won't do anything to speed an end to the Kosovo war. In fact, it may delay negotiations by hardening Milosevic's tenacity.


Nor will delay help OAF, Operation Allied Force, now in a race against time. One, public support slipping. In a dramatic Gallup poll this week, 82 percent of the nation say they want a bombing pause to pursue negotiations. And for the first time since the bombing began, support for the air war has dropped to minority percentages. Americans feel sickened by what U.S./NATO is now doing.


"The decision to attack the entire Yugoslavian nation has been counterproductive, and our destruction of civilian life has now become senseless and excessively brutal. How did we end up in this quagmire? Even for the world's only superpower, the ends don't always justify the means." So says Jimmy Carter, earlier this week.


SEN. ROBERT BENNETT (R-UT): (From videotape.) I rise to call for a suspension of the bombing in Kosovo. Can't we stop destroying civilians who are not involved in this while we talk about what our options might be? Do we have to continue to destroy the economy of Yugoslavia, depriving the civilian population of power and water, as we did over the weekend, raising the specter of an epidemic spread of typhoid, while we decide who is right, while we decide which opinion is the correct one?


Two, G-8 meets in three weeks. On the weekend of June 17th, the G-7 nations -- France, Germany, England, Italy, Canada, Japan and the United States, plus Russia, an outside member -- will redefine what U.S./NATO is supposed to be doing in Kosovo. If NATO hasn't won any real victories by then, the fragile NATO consensus will almost certainly crack.


Three, Balkan winter looms, and this exerts enormous time pressure on OAF. Almost one million refugees must have four walls around them and a roof over their heads, if they are to survive, before the harsh winter season sets in next October. Planning for this must begin by mid-June, barely three weeks away.


Despite the above, why should Clinton really be worried about deadlines? The White House is emphasizing war crimes, depicting Milosevic as Hitler, portraying Congress as cowardly neo-isolationists who would tolerate mass rape, mass murder, genocide. The public opinion onslaught against Congress will surely buy Clinton time. Congress doesn't have one-tenth the media resources the White House has, with its power to create war fever, let alone of NATO combined -- Tony Blair, Robin Cook and Louise Arbour. So why should we think that the White House will be worried about the deadlines that I just advanced?


I ask you, Tony.


MR. BLANKLEY: Well I don't entirely buy the argument that public opinion is going in Clinton's favor. I think, as you pointed out earlier, public opinion is turning against the president. And I don't know how --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But that was before the Milosevic and this new emphasis on atrocities.


MR. BLANKLEY: I -- I think that they --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, they have a real engine going.


MR. BLANKLEY: I think it's a puny engine. I think, in fact, the burden of public opinion is shifting against the president in the war and he does have a sense of a deadline, or ought to, if he's being rational.


MS. CLIFT: Yeah, to some extent I think the talk about the deadlines is artificial. The camps can be winterized; they're probably going to start winterizing them.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are they saying that now?


MS. CLIFT: Yeah. And I think that all this whining about the civilians being hurt, what would Mr. Bennett have to say about all the emaciated men that came stumbling across the border. I think the -- this -- the Milosevic indictment does move the playing field more towards troops and more towards further increasing the pain for Milosevic.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By the way, as you just saw at the top of this show, Mr. Chernomyrdin is very upset by the indictment of Milosevic, because it complicates his requirement to negotiate. He also had an extraordinary op-ed piece in the Washington Post this week -- extraordinary. And here is one sentence from it: "The world has never in this decade been so close as now to the brink of nuclear war." Should we take those words at face value, do you think?


MR. KUDLOW: I don't think the nuclear war part, but -- but -- every step closer to ground troops, the euro sinks further. It's already $1.04. It's down 15 percent since its inception. Europe is in a recession. Unemployment is 12 percent. They don't have the finances to cover additional war costs.




MR. BARONE: John --


(Cross talk.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There was one other. Just let me get this in.


MR. KUDLOW: And they can't even cut taxes to promote their own economy.




MR. KUDLOW: My point is, Europe does not want this, for financial and economic reasons, and that's a big constraint on Clinton.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's an excellent point.


But let me get this other quote in there, since I mentioned it in the tease at the top, and that is what General Norman Schwarzkopf had to say about President Clinton. This is the wire report:


"Gulf War commander General Norman Schwarzkopf gave a speech in Australia before 5,000 and denounced U.S. President Bill Clinton, declaring that President Clinton did not have the right character to be a leader. 'Character is the single most important ingredient of leadership. Proper leadership would have prevented the wars in Kosovo and Somalia.'"


What do you think of Norman Schwarzkopf saying that, Eleanor?


MS. CLIFT: Well, if he wants to volunteer for service again, he's welcome. Otherwise, I think that's a ridiculous charge to make.


But what you've left out here is Hillary's secret plan, and that is to get all those Albanian refugees, move them to the Bronx, and get them to register as Democrats. (Laughs.)




MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you're saying she's running?


MS. CLIFT: Right. (Laughter.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit: Four out of five Americans want the bombing to stop and negotiations to begin. Will this trend towards negotiations continue, or will it plateau, or will it drop? Michael Barone, one word.


MR. BARONE: Plateau.




MS. CLIFT: Continue.




MR. BLANKLEY: Continue.


MR. KUDLOW: Public support is waning on both sides of the pond. Clinton has no degrees of freedom. We're going to negotiate. (Inaudible due to cross talk) --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're going to negotiate. So you think it's going to continue. I do, too.


Issue three: Clinton's sued again.


REP. TOM CAMPBELL (R-CA): (From videotape.) There are no facts in dispute. We all know what's going on here. We know the bombs. We know the numbers of military. And so it's a question of has the president violated the terms of the War Powers Act? I suggest here his own administration has admitted there are hostilities, and more 60 days have passed, and there's been no approval by Congress. Case closed.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Congressman Tom Campbell, former and current Stanford law professor, and 25 other members of Congress, including two women and four Democrats, are taking President Clinton to Judge Paul Friedman's D.C. Federal Court next Thursday to determine whether Mr. Clinton has the right to conduct the Kosovo war. The Constitution says that the Congress shall have the power to declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal and make rules concerning captures on land and water.


REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH): The Constitution puts the war power in the hands of the people, in Article I, Section 8. And the Constitution put that war power in the hands of the people to avoid an abuse of power.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The congressional plaintiffs also claim that besides violating the Constitution, the war in Kosovo violates the 1973 War Powers Act. That act states that when United States armed forces are introduced into hostilities, the troops must be withdrawn after 60 days of conflict unless: One, Congress declares war. Not done. Two, Congress grants the president statutory authority to continue the action. Not done. Three, Congress grants the president a 30-day extension. Not done.


REP. ROSCOE BARTLETT (R-MI): (From videotape.) At midnight tonight, our president becomes an unindicted felon relative to the War Powers Act. The only way he can avoid being a felon is to claim that this is not war.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That is exactly what Mr. Clinton appears to be trying to do, namely, to avoid the term "war" because of problems with both the War Powers Act and with the Constitution. But even Mr. Clinton, notorious for weasel-wording, cannot carry off the pretense that 10,000 bombing raids on Yugoslavia is not a war.


PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: (From videotape.) I think the air war has accomplished quite a bit and has -- there's a lot more that it can accomplish.


PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: (From videotape.) We also act to prevent a wider war.


SAMUEL "SANDY" BERGER: (From videotape.) We are committed to this air war. What we've got to do is keep focused on the air war and on prosecuting it vigorously.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So we can safely assume this is a war? Anybody deny that? Eleanor?


MS. CLIFT: No, it's a war. They should have called it that.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughing.) Okay, now we've settled that. Now let's move on to this question. We have time only for one. The Federal District Court will render a judgment sometime between June 3rd and June 23rd. Who will win the lawsuit? Will it be the congressmen and -women, or will it be the White House, I ask you, Michael?


MR. BARONE: I think the answer is the White House, John. Courts don't really want to get into this matter of when you can declare war. They might rule the War Powers Act unconstitutional. I think it's too bad that we didn't do something like we did the Gulf War Resolution in '91.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, quickly!


MS. CLIFT: Yeah, this is going to be declared unconstitutional, and the congressmen will unwittingly help Bill Clinton strengthen the presidency.


MR. BARONE: I stand with every president since Gerry Ford, believing it's an unconstitutional intrusion on the presidential authority.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So they're going to rule --


MR. BARONE: If they rule correctly, they're going to rule for the White House.




MR. KUDLOW: The White House should win this. It was a lousy idea in the first place. But the problem here is the wrong president running the war. And he ought to go before Congress and the public with his specific goals to explain --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just this last week, I correctly predicted there would be a "Wag the Dog" phenomenon, and we had that with the Milosevic -- what? -- the Milosevic indictment. So too this week I will correctly predict that Judge Friedman will in fact rule in favor of the congressmen and women.


We'll be right back with predictions.




MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions.


Michael Barone?


MR. BARONE: Sonia Gandhi, next prime minister of India this fall.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No kidding? She's back in the race?




MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting.




MS. CLIFT: Iraq's oil-for-food program will be greatly expanded.




MR. BLANKLEY: The Congress will break the budget caps before July 4th.




MR. KUDLOW: Boy, there's an easy one!


With deflation --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean?


MR. KUDLOW: Breaking the caps. That's a cinch.


With deflationary --


MR. BLANKLEY: By July 4th.


MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, go ahead.


MR. KUDLOW: With deflationary pressures developing, including the Kosovo war, Greenspan and the Fed will not raise interest rates at the coming Fed meeting in June.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm so glad I invited you to do this show.


Pakistan and India are once again raging over Kashmir. Pakistan shot down two Indian aircraft this week. Both nations today are nuclear powers. Just when a strong United Nations is needed to internationalize this grave crisis, the U.N. is weakened by Kosovo and will be able to do little to hold the belligerents in check. More bitter fruit from the Clinton Kosovo blunder.










MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: Gun control explodes.


HOUSE SPEAKER DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL): (From videotape.) This is one of those rare times when the national consensus demands that we act.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A major turnaround by the Republicans on gun control; for the first time, the House GOP leadership endorsed gun control measures. This is news!


For years Congress has been split between the National Rifle Association -- the NRA -- -backed members, Republicans, and, on the other side, gun control advocates, Democrats. So very little gun legislation has passed Congress.


Why the sudden Republican shift? Horrific school shootings, notably Columbine and Conyers, have spawned new grass-roots political activists, like the anti-gun Bell Campaign that rallied at the Capitol this week, giving momentum to change.


Over half of Republican voters -- get that, Republican voters -- polled now say gun control is more important than the right to own guns.


Question: How well did the majority party -- i.e., the Republicans -- handle the explosive gun control issue this week and the week before in Congress, Larry Kudlow?


MR. KUDLOW: It's a little embarrassing, but you know what? I completely support their position. I think that the Republicans and conservatives in general should be moving towards gun controls. I think we should get rid of guns and put much more God and voluntary prayer in the schools.


And I also want to note a column last week by William F. Buckley, who made the following argument: He said, "The right to bear arms, the Second Amendment, has to do with insurrections and rebellions and invasions, not with a lot of people in the cities and the suburbs walking around with guns."


I think the GOP and conservatives and supply-siders should get rid of this albatross and be opposed to guns.


MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know, what's taking a beating in this issue is the NRA. And you might be interested in watching, as I was, a father of a young lady who was killed in Columbine. Listen to this:


DARRELL SCOTT (father of Columbine High School shooting victim): (From videotape.) I was amazed at how quickly fingers begin to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I'm not here to represent or to defend the NRA, because I don't believe they're responsible for my daughter's death.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So he went on to say that it was a bum rap against the NRA.


MS. CLIFT: Well --


MR. KUDLOW: I don't think -- I don't think --


(Cross talk.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're one who makes a whipping boy out of the NRA, Eleanor.


MR. KUDLOW: I don't think --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you have to say about your behavior?


MS. CLIFT: I think that gentleman is entitled to his opinion and guns aren't solely responsible for what happened. But we are awash in guns and those gutless wonders on the Hill, God bless them, read the polls and decided they're going to go with the country. And this issue is where the tobacco issue was five years ago --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, let me pick that up.


MS. CLIFT: Juries are going to be awarding money to victims and the manufacturers are going to pay.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's the second big story of the week. A judge, Brooklyn, New York, awarded $500,000 to be paid by the gun manufacturer to a gunshot victim on the grounds that -- of negligently distributing the product.


MR. BARONE: Well, John, what we need here --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of that development? Are the gun manufacturers going to become the new tobacco industry?


MR. BARONE: I think that's going to happen and I think it amounts to judicial tyranny and confiscation of property. These people don't have the votes to yet abolish guns, as Larry Kudlow and other people want to do, and so they try and use it through judicial --


MR. KUDLOW: The --


MR. BARONE: Let somebody else talk, Eleanor. (Laughter.) Judicial activists, I mean, here, and so forth.