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Special Report Roundtable - March 21

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


AL GORE (D), FMR VICE PRESIDENT: The planet has a fever. If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor. If the doctor says you need to intervene, you don't say, well, I read a science-fiction novel that tells me it's not a problem.


HUME: That was the man the New York Times described on its front page today as follows, and I am not making this up: "Heartbreak Loser Turned Oscar Boasting Nobel Hopeful, Globe Trotting, Multimillionaire, Pop Culture Eminence."

And now some analytical observations about His Eminencies from Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard; Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call; and Nina Easton, Washington bureau chief of Fortune magazine.

What to make of Mr. Gore, his performance today, what it tells us on this issue, and what it tells us, perhaps about him and his intentions?

FRED BARNES, WEEKLY STANDARD: You know Brit, I'm not sure whether the earth has a fever, but Al Gore has a fever, that's for sure.

He is a wild exaggerator. For instance, this U.N. panel that says that over the rest of the century the sea level, because of global warming, will rise 23 inches, Al Gore talks about 20 feet. There's a big difference there. And of course, people like Gore claim there's a scientific consensus. We saw that piece in the New York Times last week, that even Mort read, that showed there's no scientific consensus.

All of the things that Al Gore says are subtle fact that man -- the activity of men, mainly driving cars and...

HUME: And having livestock.

BARNES: And having livestock -- that's another one -- and coal-fired power plants, and so on -- that has caused this one degree increase in the globe's temperature over the last year, that it's chiefly manmade.

HUME: Last century, you mean.

BARNES: Over the last century, right.

But we've had these one degree increases in the past, in past centuries when there were no cars, there were not coal-fired factories or anything like that. So, I mean, that would indicate, and I don't know what the answer is, it's still debated, that it's activity -- changed activity on the sun that's had a bigger impact.

MORT KONDRACKE, ROLL CALL: Now, I have read the New York Times piece and I reread the New York Times piece, and basically what is says was that there disputes about certain facts in the Gore case. And one or them -- one significant one is this question of how high the sea level rise and it's not -- it isn't significant. However, as to the question of a consensus, I mean the -- Gore appeared before the American Geophysical Union and got a standing ovation.

HUME: Mort...

KONDRACKE: Just a second. The head of the National Academy of Science, today, I talked to him, pointed me in the direction of testimony that he's delivered before Congress, which says that there is an overwhelming consensus among his colleagues, and he is an earth scientist, that global warming is a fact, that man is responsible for it and that the sun is not responsible. There's been a lot of study...

HUME: But Mort, is -- doesn't -- isn't what -- isn't scientific consensus what you turn to when you don't have scientific fact?


HUME: In other words, you haven't established it?

KONDRACKE: No. No, the...

HUME: Well, is this scientific fact?

KONDRACKE: Look, how are we supposed to determine what scientific fact is...

HUME: Mort, that's what the scientific method is for. Let me move on to Nina, just to get her...

KONDRACKE: You get thousands of scientists and if they all agree -- of 90 percent...

HUME: That's not science, Mort, that's a vote. That's an election.

KONDRACKE: They are scientists...

HUME: I understand...

NINA EASTON, FORTUNE: I have to -- you know, I have to agree with Mort here, I think all of you who are, you know, saying that the consensus -- this consensus that there is global warming and that human activity is contributing to it -- the people who, you know...

HUME: Nobody disputes that there's a global warming, Nina. Nobody disputes that humans are contributing to it...

EASTON: OK, then what are you disputing?

HUME: The question is how much global warming is a result of human activity and how much of a difference the protected warming would make in anybody's life over the next century?

EASTON: That's right. And that's what -- but that's what -- and that's where some of the scientists disputed Gore as an alarmist, but also said that they appreciate him bringing the issue.

I mean, the problem with Al Gore today, and his star turn, I thought he was -- which he did, I thought was -- his supporters would call it a star turn, his detractors would just gag it.


EASTON: Hysteria. But I think the problem is that he got it there and he appealed to Congress as let's repeat ourselves as the World War II generation and this is a planetary emergency and this the most important issue facing us.

And you have to think, that's the most important issue not terrorists getting a hold of a nuclear weapon and, you know, unleashing it in New York City? I mean, I think he -- what happens is he takes it so far that he starts to lose some credibility.

BARNES: That's the whole point. That's the whole point. You know, Mort believes these computer projections. You know you change the variables a little and you get something completely different.


And no, but here's the real problem with them Brit, you take them back, you take the temperature increase, if there was one, in the 16th century and then you plug that into a computer model. It doesn't predict what actually happened in the 17th century. So, these computer models are no help at all...


HUME: It is such a vast top -- vast subject -- vast area that you can't get computer models to -- if you go back and put in the data that we know from the past, we can't get one that will accurately predict what's happening today.

KONDRACKE: Look, I am clearly not an expert on this subject. What I know from what I've read and what I've heard from the head of the National Academy of Sciences is that the increase in the temperatures does track the increase in CO2 content in the atmosphere...

HUME: Except when it doesn't.

KONDRACKE: Well, but it does...

BARNES: What happened to those increased in the past -- Mort.

KONDRACKE: Now, just a second...

HUME: How can the globe cooled between the `40s and the `70 -- how could that happen? CO2 use was going up during that period, how could that be?

KONDRACKE: I'll go back and ask them. But, the point -- just a second. The further point is that ice melt is occurring faster than we had originally anticipated using the data that we've available.


EASTON: Let's go back to...

HUME: Hold it a second, let's get to this other question.

So, Al Gore said again today that he does -- he's not running for office, he doesn't plan to run for office, he doesn't expect to run for office. That's not mean the same as saying he won't run for office and the office would be the presidency, one presumes. Do you think he'll get in?

EASTON: I think he'll sit on the sidelines and watch. If somebody stumbles, he's there to get in. He's got a movement. The problem is, once again, he addresses one issue -- one of many...

HUME: Well, he can address the other, though, he's a seasoned guy, he has views on all of these things, he's widely experienced, he's qualified.

EASTON: But, you can't get up and say that global warming is where we should put -- we should stop and fix the entire nation's focus just on global warming...

HUME: You think that would be too much of a one issue candidate for the public's taste? What do you think? You think he'll get in?

KONDRACKE: He's waiting for a draft but I don't think the draft will come.

BARNES: yeah, I agree with that. I don't think it'll come either.

HUME: When we come back with our panel, subpoenas are authorized, not yet issued, in the matter of the Justice Department and the eight dismissed prosecutors, that story next.



REP LINDA SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: We have worked toward voluntary cooperation on this investigation, but we must prepare for the possibility that the Justice Department and the White House will continue to hide the truth.


HUME: And so, Congresswoman Sanchez as authorized -- her committee has authorized the -- the full committee chairman, John Conyers, to issue subpoenas, if he decides the time is right, to senior White House aides, Karl Rove and others, former aide Harriet Miers, and so on, for testimony that the president says he will not permit them to give under subpoena, under oath, and in front of the klieg lights, as the president calls them.

So, the battle appears to be, at least, on the verge of being joined, here. What about it?

KONDRACKE: Well, I think there will be a court test. If the subpoenas are served and the subpoenas will be rejected on these White House people, they'll have to go to court.

HUME: Arlen Specter was saying today it could take -- we could be into the next presidency.

KONDRACKE: Right, well, that may be what the administration has in mind by going this route. I have no idea how fast it could go. And I don't know what the consequences would be. There is precedent. I mean, when the president said that this was unprecedented, yesterday, this request, Henry...

HUME: No, what he said was the amount of material they he's turning over is unprecedented.

KONDRACKE: I see, OK, well, in any event, there is a lot of precedent for White House officials to going up to testify before congressional committees. It's not, you know, not unprecedented. Now that's -- a lot of it was voluntary, I guess, but it was under oath. In this case, look, in criminal cases, it's clear that executive privilege claims do not apply...


HUME: Executive privilege claims...

KONDRACKE: In the Clinton case too.

HUME: Executive privilege claims detached from national security. You don't know what the ruling...

KONDRACKE: But in criminal cases, like the Clinton matters...

HUME: Nixon matters.

KONDRACKE: And impeachment, and Nixon, it does not apply. Whether it applies in this case, whether it's -- where it's internal communications about personnel decisions, I think it's up to the courts, and we don't know.

EASTON: I think this White House hopes that, like that 2004 Supreme Court decision that said Cheney did not have to turn over the documents relating to the secret energy task force. I think they were hoping that court will -- if it ends up in court, will go their way.

It's interesting that Senator Specter said 2009 this could be in the courts. I think that was a peek into probably White House hopes that this just plays out, because -- you know, and the bottom line that we should all, you know, discuss here is if they are subpoenaed and do testify under oath, that once again, puts the administration in this dangerous position that Scooter Libby found himself in of, you know, conflicting testimony or, you know, or different stories or, you know -- and that puts them in a very dangerous legal position.

BARNES: If they testified under oath and there was a transcript you know there would be discrepancies with what other people have said and you can see Chuck Schumer wavering around, you know, the transcript of Karl Rove's testimony. And the truth is, though, a court test is that the briar patch the Bush administration should want to get thrown into, because it clearly -- it'll -- look, if their lawyers are any good at all, they can get this thing to go past the time when Bush leaves office and then they'll have some meaningless decision...

HUME: But if that's what their strategy is...

BARNES: I don't know that that's what their strategy, at all.

HUME: But if it should be, aren't you arguing in affect for a cover- up by running out the clock?

BARNES: Well, is running out the clock, I don't know about a cover- up. I'm still waiting to see some evidence of illegality or wrongdoing.

HUME: We had what, 1,300 pages of e-mails, what evidence...

BARNES: Three-thousand pages.

HUME: How many pages?

BARNES: Three-thousand pages.

HUME: Three-thousand pages. Was there any evidence in there that pointed to...

KONDRACKE: There's not a shred of evidence and there should be. I mean, if the White House and the Justice Department are discussing back and forth whether these people are going to be fired or not, you would think that if there was a nefarious reason involved, you would think that a hint of it would appear in one of these e-mails. There's nothing.

BARNES: It's still, as I've said all along, it's a scandal without any scandalous behavior.

HUME: All right, so what happens? Do you think it'll go to court?


HUME: And who wins? Let's assume we get and adjudication of it in the -- in time to have it happen before all of us are dead?

KONDRACKE: My guess is that the administration will win.

HUME: Really? What do you think -- Nina.

EASTON: I think -- I don't think they'll win. I think -- and this kind of -- the courts have gone both ways on executive privilege...

HUME: The courts do recognize that there is an executive privilege...

EASTON: They do recognize it exists.

HUME: It just doesn't apply -- doesn't overcome all other rights.

EASTON: And you do have the precedent of all of these Clinton White House officials, 30, 40 of them, who appeared before committees...


HUME: But that was -- they were not under subpoena, though, they were...

EASTON: Some of them were.

BARNES: They volunteered.

HUME: They volunteered...

BARNES: What Clinton did in allowing all of these people to testify is a weakening of presidential power that Bush and Cheney have tried to correct. And I think they'll be able to correct it in this case, as well. I mean if they -- if it gets into court, it's over.

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