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Special Report Roundtable - June 19

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


MATT STOLLER, LIBERAL BLOGGER: Traditionally it's seen as Democrats who listen to these ideas, but Republicans listen to them as well. So, by arguing, and organizing, and engaging in intellectual debate, and elevating the level of discourse, I think blogs on the left are really changing the political landscape.


HUME: Well, they certainly can attract candidates. And this conference, the "Take Back America" conference this week in Washington features what is called, I guess, blog boulevard, which is a comfortable place for the bloggers to sit. And there you see, you get a sense of it. There are plenty of them there, and they are influential with the Democratic Party. They attract prominent candidates, and a number of them, as you heard in Carl Cameron's report earlier.

Some thoughts on all of this now from Mort Kondracke, editor of "Roll Call", Mara Liasson, national correspondent for National Public Radio, and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.

Well, they do turn out, and they do matter, these bloggers. I mean, the candidates turn out, and the bloggers appear to really matter, don't they?

MORT KONDRACKE, ROLL CALL: Well, I think they do. And they are the leftward pressure on the Democratic Party that the right-wing talk show hosts are on the Republican party. And between the two of them they manage to polarize even further an already polarized politics, making it increasingly difficult to get any American problems solved, like health care, or the war in Iraq, or sensible terrorism policy.

And all of the candidates are pandering to them. I mean, the democratic candidates are pandering to them just as much as the Republicans candidates are pandering to the right. And they were doing it again today.

HUME: Which group, would you say, is more influential with in their respective party?

KONDRACKE: No, I think a pox on both their houses.

LIASSON: 4.27 Inside their own party?

HUME: Which party is most influenced by its bloggers?

LIASSON: I would say the Democratic Party is most influenced by its bloggers.

I think that the liberal blogosphere has become an important constituency group in the Democratic party, just like the labor unions, or the civil rights groups, the way that Harry Reid, the Senate Majority leader meets with them like he would any other constituency group in the Democratic party.

I think that they have, as Mort said, have been responsible for making the Democrats more partisan, more confrontational, and pushing the party to the left.

HUME: And the sources of their influence, is it their readership or is it something else?

LIASSON: I think it's both. They have both been able to raise a lot of money.

HUME: The bloggers?

LIASSON: Yes, the bloggers and the internet--

HUME: Are you talking about the bloggers or the activists websites?

LIASSON: Well, I'm talking about both. The activist websites like along raised $27 million in the last cycle. And members, there are three million of them, every cycle give about $100 million on their own to candidates, all of them, presumably, Democrats.

So they raise a lot of money, and they also create a kind of echo chamber, and they do keep stories alive that would otherwise die. And, look, we saw this on the right, the swift boat veterans, that was on the internet, too.

HUME: But they really started by purchasing ads, old-fashioned TV ads.

LIASSON: Well, purchases ads, too.

HUME: They sure do.

KRAUTHAMMER: Mort's right that talk radio is conservative and the blogosphere tends to be more liberal. I'm not what that tells us other than conservatives like to talk, and liberals like to type.

But they have a disproportionate influence. It is interesting, there are conservative blogs, but I think, at least the ones I read, they are more analytical and restrained. The more liberal blogs are a lot more pungent and profane, but political. They are actually active in politics, raising the money, and mobilizing the base in a way you don't have in the right-wing blog.

What is interesting is that this meeting, the "Take Back America" meeting, where all of the candidates have appeared, they have an annual award named after Paul Wellstone, the late liberal senator. It's their Oscar, it is kind of the best performance by a liberal. And the man who presented it is Ned Lamont. Now who is Ned Lamont? A man who was a creation of the liberal blogs, found, recruited and financed by the blogs.

LIASSON: Or by himself.

KRAUTHAMMER: Yes. But they were the ones who went out there raising the--

HUME: He was the guy who ran against Lieberman.

LIASSON: Beat him in the primaries.

HUME: Beat him in the primaries.

KRAUTHAMMER: His job was to run against and destroy Lieberman. So what he did is he wins the primary, he loses the general election. Which tells you that the overall effect, I think, is that they will pull the Democrats left, which will in the end endanger their objective of winning general elections.

LIASSON: Well, talk radio didn't endanger Republicans from winning.

KRAUTHAMMER: The country is more conservative than it is liberal. It's angry with Bush, but, if you look at the ideological shift over the last 30 years, it is to the right, it's not to the left.

KONDRACKE: Well, the fact is that there are more conservatives in America than there are liberals. The polls all indicate that--

HUME: Isn't that why liberals refer to themselves now as something else.

KONDRACKE: Progressive.

HUME: Progressive.

KONDRACKE: But the swing group is the independents. And both the nominees, I'm afraid, are going to be so far out, that the independent are going to throw up their hands. Frankly, I would like to see Michael Bloomberg get into this.

HUME: Well, he's acting like we knew he was going to, he's reputed the Republican party, or at least disaffiliated himself. He is now unaffiliated as of tonight.

When we come back with the panel we'll discuss the Energy Bill, what's in it, what could be left out, and what are its chances. That's next.


SENATOR BARBARA BOXER, (D) CALIFORNIA : I'm concerned that they may be trying to derail this bill. They haven't said so explicitly, but if you listen carefully, you will here the echoes of obstructionism.

SENATOR JON KYL, (R) ARIZONA: We ought to be addressing what is on the taxpayer's mind, namely getting gasoline prices down, and not simply passing more taxes under the guise of an energy policy.


HUME: The energy bill, folks, is in real trouble tonight. The Democrats, as you heard, accusing the Republicans of obstruction. Democrats accuse them of trying to solve everything with a tax increase, in this case it would be the ending of certain tax breaks for the oil companies, and the Republicans arguing that the bill does not do anything to curb gasoline prices or produce more fuel.

What about it?

KONDRACKE: Well, that is right. It looks as though this Energy Bill is going to go down to defeat because, again, there is no bipartisanship.

An example, two bills today, rival bills, to promote liquid coal, right? One, the Democrats all voted for, sponsored by the Senator Tester of Montana, and the other the Republicans all voted for. Neither bill got 60 votes. They couldn't bring them together, they couldn't make an agreement on a bipartisan basis that might have gotten 60 votes, so it is all going down in defeat.

It looks like Senator Bingaman's renewable standards requirement is not going to get 60 votes. Or if it doesn't that will bring down the bill. And it will add these taxes--

HUME: A renewable standards bill would mean that every state you have to have a certain percentage of the fuel that was generated there.

KONDRACKE: By so-called renewable sources.

HUME: And the people from the south say, look, we haven't got, that is most easily done, apparently, by wind farms, and the people in the south say we don't have wind down here to do that. It hurts us disproportionately.

KONDRACKE: So Senator Domenici says well let's include in this renewable definition nuclear and hydroelectric power. Oh no, can't do that. So they voted that down.

I mean, there was just no agreement on anything.

LIASSON: Yes, there definitely doesn't seem to be a center on energy policy. You also have got Republicans here, Jon Kyl said we have to bring the gas prices down. Well, there is no way to bring gas prices down in the near-term. We have see them go up and down over, fall over the last year.

But, look, the democratic base, you know, which was at that conference today that we talked about, they want big drastic energy policy changes, And I think that if this fails, this will be a problem for the democratic leadership in congress, which was sent to Washington.

HUME: What kind of big changes do they want?

LIASSON: I think they want real fuel economy standards to go up. They want some kind of a cap on carbon emissions. They want a big push to be less dependent on foreign oil.

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, Mort is lamenting the absence of a center to pass this bill. I rejoice in the absence of a center. It is a lousy bill, and all of these ideas are lousy ideas.

For example, liquid fuel out of coal. This is picking and choosing, probably, the losers the way that Carter picked shale oil in the 1970's. Let the market decide what is economical and how it's going to work, and not have an arbitrary picking and choosing in Washington.

Secondly, it is mandates. What failed in the Senate was the 15 percent, which, as you pointed out, is absurd. It has to come from solar or wind or geothermal. Solar is incredibly expensive, wind largely absent in the south, and I don't see any Yellowstones in Maryland where I live.

And the senators assume that if you mandate it, it's going to happen, like the field of dreams. What going to happen is it's going to increase the price of electricity. And what you get is a hidden tax.

Instead of being honest about all of this and taxing things openly to get the reductions in usage or new sources of energy, what do you is you mandate-- hide a tax and higher prices. It going to happen in alcohol, in the biofuels as well. And it going to happen in the raising the mileage standards, which is a fight in the House, which is going to raise the price of cars.

You have got to--either the market does it, or you get a mandate of something simple that requires no regulation, like increasing oil imports these days, and have people do it.

HUME: Is the bill dead in your view?

KRAUTHAMMER: It should be and it will be.

HUME: You think so, Laura?

LIASSON: At the moment, it looks that way.

KONDRACKE: There will be no energy Bill this year, I think.

HUME: You heard it here first.

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