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Will Energy Crisis Yield Solutions?; New Mexico Governor Supports Marijuana Legalization; How Britain's Election Could Affect U.S.

Aired June 2, 2001 - 19:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Now, from Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.

MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields with the full CAPITAL GANG; that's Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and Margaret Carlson.

George W. Bush paid his first visit as president to California, confronting a power shortage in the nation's most populous state. He implicitly hit back at California Governor Gray Davis' criticism of inaction by the Bush administration.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For too long, too often, too many have wasted energy, pointing fingers and laying blame. Blame shifting is not action, it's a distraction.


SHIELDS: Specifically, he rejected the governor's call for federally imposed price caps, both publicly and in a private 40-minute meeting.


BUSH: Price caps do nothing to reduce demand, and they do nothing to increase supply. Their result will ultimately be more serious shortages and therefore, even higher prices.



GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: We will file a lawsuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for failing to discharge its legal obligations.

While the president and I have a fundamental disagreement on whether or not California is entitled to price relief, I believe there is no doubt we are entitled to it as a matter of law.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SHIELDS: President Bush closed his two-day visit to California at Sequoia National Forest. There, he delivered the first environmental speech of his presidency.


BUSH: My administration will adopt a new spirit of respect and cooperation, because in the end, that is the better way to protect the environment we all share. A new environmentalism for the 21st century.


SHIELDS: Bob Novak, you were in California covering President Bush. Tell us, what did he accomplish in the Golden State.

BOB NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Well, he had to go there sooner or later. This is the 29th state that he has visited as president, and he survived it. It wasn't very pleasant, I don't think he's terribly popular there.

And he was facing a very tough, astute, successful politician, Governor Gray Davis, who is desperate, who is cornered. Davis is falling like a rock because of the energy crisis, whether he is rightly or wrongly blamed, and he, as the White House knew, was going to do everything possible to put the blame on President Bush for not putting price caps on.

Now, that's a free lunch, but they like a free lunch in California. The price caps are not going to help the process, and I think that that Governor Davis is in very bad shape. I don't think he helped himself, and I would guess that George W. Bush will be back to California again. They haven't completely given up on it. They haven't given up on that state.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, when megawatt per hour goes from $38 to $1,900 as it did in one instant last month in the shortage in California, price caps must look pretty damned attractive.

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, they look very attractive to Davis. I mean, he needs a real fix right now. These long-term solutions, it will be entirely dark in California. It's not necessarily an either-or situation, Davis versus Bush. There's more than enough blame to go around, and because Davis is up first for reelection.

SHIELDS: June next year.

CARLSON: It's political lights out for him, unless he fixes it fast. Even though he didn't create the problem, it's on his watch.

I thought Bush might hug that sequoia while he was out there, but hadn't been quite that big, because he now sees that up until how, he's been an environmental disaster, and he's trying to pull back a little bit, take back that conservation is a sign of personal virtue and get a little bit friendlier with those tree-huggers. SHIELDS: I was going to ask you, Kate, was that a subliminal appeal, putting on a green jacket, the president did?

KATE O'BEIRNE, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": Did you find any good spots for drilling in the national forest while you were there, Bob? Anything looked promising?

NOVAK: I was hoping -- I am -- I thought...


NOVAK: ... one thing they've got plenty of is trees, and they don't get any oil...

O'BEIRNE: Maybe too many. Maybe even too many.

There's plenty of blame to go around in California among both Republican and Democratic members of the assembly and legislature there. George Bush, of course, the Democratic public even in California is not inclined to blame him, although Gray Davis hoped by forcing him to come into the state, by accusing him of neglecting it and contributing to its problem, he could spread some of the blame to him. I don't think that's going to work.

Obviously, neither will price caps. The president is exactly right. He gets an A-plus on the economics of price caps. It will actually decrease demand, increase supply, but that might not matter.

Dick Cheney met with senators recently and talked about the fact that, you know, he learned his lesson about price caps during the Nixon administration, and immediately Senator Gordon Smith, up for reelection in Oregon, said, you know, well, I'm endorsing them, and Senator Susan Collins, up for reelection in Maine, wants to criticize oil companies.

SHIELDS: No, it's a good point, Al. Maybe bad economics theoretically but it's certainly good politics in California where you're talking about families facing economic ruin.

AL HUNT, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": No, I agree. I thought this trip was a quasi-disaster for Bush, because he had nothing to say. He went out there and he had absolutely nothing to say, and I think, in fact, it was a little fix for Gray Davis who has politically mishandled this situation, and I think that Bush became a good political foil for it.

I think substantively Gray Davis is close to blameless on this. I mean, they hadn't built a power plant in 12 years before he became governor, they have 10 under construction now, four more this summer, best conservation record of any state in the union, but I think politically, that price caps -- I covered wage and price controls, Mark, a long, long time ago when a lot of people here weren't born, and they don't work over the long run, but this is a short-run problem, and I think over the short run, you can make a case for them.

SHIELDS: Let me just pick up on what Al said. I have to say I felt a little sorry for George Bush this week, because he had to go to California, because it's a state facing crisis, it's a big, important state, and he went out there with no action statement after that meeting and he elevated Governor Davis to a summit-like position. All of a sudden, he's meeting with the president.

I never saw Ronald Reagan go to Little Rock to meet with Bill Clinton when he was governor. I never saw Bill Clinton go to Texas and meet with George Bush.

NOVAK: But that's a different, that's a different situation.

O'BEIRNE: It's a big problem for the governor of California. I mean, I think the meeting was perfectly appropriate.


O'BEIRNE: Gray Davis did inherit the problem. But one more commentary, California is blaming him for being too slow to react, and he himself said: "Look, if I wanted to solve this I could solve it in 10 minutes by letting prices rise." He was right, he could have.

NOVAK: But the difference of situations, though, I mean, you can't compare Clinton and the senior Bush. There was no crisis in Arkansas, it wasn't the country's biggest state.

And I was there, and it wasn't a question that he had looked puny compared to Davis. Davis was siting on a dais with him, he looked like -- he never -- you're always insignificant when you're near the president of the United States.

Davis was very passive, I am told, in the meeting, didn't push very hard, and then he came out and he said: "We are going to go to court." Well, that very day, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal rejected the same kind of a suit for price caps that Governor Davis is proposing, which was put in by the Democratic leaders of the legislature and Jerry Brown, the mayor of Oakland. So I think he's in very bad shape. I don't think he got any kind of fix out of that, except maybe from some of his friends in Washington.

HUNT: Well, Bob, I think that the Davis people basically say that Bush seemed to be very, very wholly and not really understanding the substance during that meeting, so I don't know which side is right. Both sides have their spin, and I think that basically that Davis, however it looks like he is belatedly trying to do something, and people feel desperate out there.


CARLSON: Bush had a lot of reasons for going to California, not the least of which is it's very hard for a Republican to get elected there. He didn't get elected there, he needed to go there, and Davis made a good point: if California has pneumonia, the rest of the country is going get a very bad cold.


NOVAK: ... cold, because it's a special California problem.

CARLSON: Yeah, but the economy is going to have an effect.

O'BEIRNE: Although price caps in California could help it spread.

SHIELDS: I just want to close with one point, the importance of the politics. Senator Jim Brulte, Republican Senate leader in Sacramento, said to me that given the demographics of California today, Michael Dukakis could beat George Bush in 1998. That's how much it's changed, and that's the problem Republicans have in California. I'm sorry for you, Bob Novak.

THE GANG will be back with the Supreme Court golf game, and later troubles with the Bush daughters.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. By a seven to two vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that under the Americans With Disabilities Act disabled professional golfer Casey Martin may use a golf cart in violation of tournament rules. The majority opinion, by Justice John Paul Stevens, contended, quote: "The walking rule, at best, is peripheral to the nature of the events," end quote.

The dissent, by Justice Antonin Scalia, said, quote: "The rules are the rules. There is no basis on which anyone, even the Supreme Court of the United States, can pronounce one or another of them non- essential," end quote.


JACK NICKLAUS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: The idea of having a level playing field, that's all the tour wanted to have, is everybody play under the same rules.



CASEY MARTIN, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: I just wanted to play golf and needed some help to do that, but if greater good comes out of that, if this can open doors for people in golf or just in life in general, then I think that's great.


SHIELDS: Al Hunt, does this decision have any real meaning beyond golf?

HUNT: I suspect very limited, Mark. Casey Martin is a terrific golfer who is severely disabled and cannot walk an 18-hole course. The point of the PGA's rule prohibiting carts is -- and by the way, carts are allowed in senior tour, they are allowed in college golf, they are allowed in other professional golf tours -- but the point is to test endurance. Casey Martin is more tired after going 18 holes in a cart than Jack Nicklaus is walking 18 holes. All the court majority said was that there has to be a reasonable modification if it doesn't affect the fundamental aspect of the activity, and I think that's what was basically done here.

Finally, I would just point out, Mark, that every time a civil rights is affirmed or renewed, there are those professional pessimists who say that the sky is going to fall, it's going to be doom and gloom. They said it when the American With Disabilities Act was first passed. We were warned it would mean blind airline pilots and it would mean deaf music critics. Hasn't happened, won't happen this time.

SHIELDS: Bob, as a sort of merry sunshine optimist, what does this mean to you?

NOVAK: Well, in the first place, the people who passed the American With Disabilities Act in their wildest dreams never thought this would apply to a mediocre professional golfer who does have a physical handicap, never thought that would do that.

I mean, does that mean that Ryan Duran (ph) -- remember the old picture from the New York Yankees, that couldn't see anything, that he should have gotten closer to the plate under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

But seriously, the real point is that only Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas, the only people consistently on the court read the constitution and the law as they are written, and it's outrageous that you should take the rules of a private organization, athletic organization, and say: "Those rules don't count."

The rules say he has to walk! And what are these judges saying that it doesn't matter? I think the judge-written legislation in this country is really an outrage, and that's why the left-wingers in the Senate are so anxious to stop more Scalias and Thomases from going on the bench.

SHIELDS: Now that we've heard from the polemicist, let's turn to our -- eat your heart out, Greta Van Susteren -- let's turn to our two legal experts, Margaret and Kate -- Margaret.

CARLSON: Well, Judge Scalia said "rules are rules," and it's no place for the court to be interpreting rules. Well, what's the court for, if not to do that, in fact? And you know, the PGA could have saved itself all this trouble by simply making this exception, because it doesn't make any difference to the game.

One of the -- I think Clarence Thomas wrote that "fatigue is an element of the sport." Well, that describes golf for a lot of us, but you know, Sandra O'Connor who wrote the opinion, she made a hole in one. I think she understands the game. It doesn't go to the fundamental nature of the game. We are not going to have blind baseball pitchers, Bob. The flood gates are not opening, and it is a wonderful thing to see a civil right affirmed. SHIELDS: Does this mean that I don't have a career in the National Basketball Association, Kate?

O'BEIRNE: This one -- check with the court, Mark. This one I put squarely on Congress, because the Americans With Disabilities Act is such a muddle. I disagree -- at least Casey Martin is disabled within the meaning of the act, the kind of person the act intended to help.

It has been so abused, though, that act, by alcoholics, agoraphobics, and those are just the A's. It really abused the ADA, so I think Congress really ought to tighten it up.

Regardless of what you think of the merits of the case, I do think the PGA should have accommodated Casey Martin. It was a depressing spectacle to see seven Supreme Court justices defining what is golf. I mean, all sports rules are arbitrary. Why three bases? Why three strikes? Why the height of the basketball hoop? And the kind of rules we want the court looking at are not the rules of golf.

HUNT: You know, but I thought that Justice Scalia was positively silly in saying it's going to mean that some day attention deficit disorder kid will come in and demand four strikes.

I've been in thousands of baseball games, Mark, from little league to the Mets, I've never seen four strikes. That changes the fundamental nature of a game, and would be unacceptable. This does not. That's a very important distinction. And as for the court jumping in and telling the PGA -- if the PGA said a black can't play, you would of course expect the court to jump in, wouldn't you, Bob?

NOVAK: This is incomparable!

HUNT: This is a civil -- no, I'm sorry. The ADA is a civil right.

NOVAK: Well, that's not a civil right to say that this poor fellow, who isn't a very good golfer anyway...

HUNT: He's on the PGA tour.

NOVAK: He is not on the tour right now, he lost his cart because his play was bad, but they will probably say, we'll subtract -- since he's disabled, we will subtract some strokes for him, but that isn't really the point.

The point is that you have the court, this arrogant court, and this is the best court we've had, deciding that they can interfere in anything they want to, including a private organization's rules that don't affect civil rights.

CARLSON: Riding in the cart -- riding in the cart is not going to improve his game.

SHIELDS: I will say this, Bob, he may have lost his cart, but you're a card-carrying member yourself. Next on CAPITAL GANG, the Bush daughters, due Austin.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. The 19-year-old presidential daughters, Jenna and Barbara Bush, were charged with alcohol violations in Austin, Texas, the second such incident involving Jenna.


ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president views this as a family matter, a private matter, and he will treat it as such.


SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, is this a problem with the Bush girls, or with bad laws?

CARLSON: The laws aren't that bad. I mean, you could raise the drinking age if you wanted, but then please raise the driving age, because that's the biggest problem. I mean, teenagers with no sense drinking and complete mobility.

The Bush girls -- would this be making news if they weren't the Bush girls? No, because teenage drinking, regrettably, is a terrible problem, and we are making a big deal of theirs. It's interesting because it's the president himself and it's interesting because we are a celebrity-prone culture.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne, your take.

O'BEIRNE: I think the real story here is our ridiculous laws on drinking, our 21-year-old drinking standard. If people really viewed a 19-year-old having a beer or even a margarita as a real criminal offense, there wouldn't be the kind of sympathy that the daughters in the family have received as a result of this. And if it weren't a crime at all, nobody would be paying any attention.

So, I mean, at root, really, here is our view of kids drinking, where typically college students drink and everybody sort of winks and turns their back on it and then act as though there's some sort of a major problem when they get caught. I think the 21-year-old drinking age is ridiculous.

SHIELDS: Ridiculous, Bob Novak, but Mothers Against Drunk Driving have had an enormous impact upon limiting drinking by underage people.

NOVAK: They shouldn't drive when they're drunk.

But the idea -- it isn't just college kids who drink. Teenagers have been drinking in this republic since the beginning, for 200 years. When I was in college, I think I violated the 18-year-old drinking limit -- I mean 21-year-old, sorry -- 21-year-old drinking limit in Illinois about 1,000 times. And I probably used a fake ID about 300 times. And everybody I knew did, female...

CARLSON: Can I make a citizens arrest here?

NOVAK: Too late -- statute of limitations.

But every man -- every girl and every boy in college did the same thing and nobody worried about it.

I think that the person who is to blame is George W. Bush for passing those tough enforcement laws in the state of Texas, that if his daughter gets caught again under those laws she goes to jail -- of course, she won't go to jail -- but these are ridiculous laws, and everybody is too excited about teenage drinking.

SHIELDS: Al, I'd just point out one thing -- just a point of historical clarification: when Bob Novak was in college, it was Prohibition, so he was violating federal laws.

HUNT: You know, I misunderstood, because I thought he was getting drunk with Thomas Jefferson.

Look, Mark, there's a part of all of us that wants to say, just let Jenna be Jenna and leave her alone. I think rules and laws that aren't enforceable and are widely disobeyed are not good law as a general proposition, but I also think college drinking is a terribly serious problem.

It's a legitimate story because she is the president's daughter. I hope we don't pile on. And I do think it does make a mockery of George Bush's inane suggestion last year that he didn't level with us about his drunken driving record because he didn't want his kids to know about it. I mean, obviously, that's...

NOVAK: Did you drink a lot in college, Al?

HUNT: I did.


NOVAK: Break the law of North Carolina?

HUNT: It was worse than that, Bob; it was a Southern Baptist school, so you weren't supposed to drink at all.

NOVAK: And it didn't hurt you a bit, did it?

HUNT: Well, I don't know...


CARLSON: Kate, tell us your drinking history.

SHIELDS: I guess I'm the only one that didn't drink in college, you know.

HUNT: We haven't heard from Kate. O'BEIRNE: New York was an 18 state when I was growing up, and classmates who came from the out-of-state 21 states were the ones who abused alcohol, not the girls who grew up with 18-year-old drinking age.

SHIELDS: Did you drink in junior high?



O'BEIRNE: Only Communion wine.

SHIELDS: We'll be back with our "CAPITAL GANG Classic": the 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies.


SHIELDS: Welcome back.

And now for the "CAPITAL GANG Classic." This week in New York City a federal jury convicted four followers of terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. This is what the CAPITAL GANG said about those attacks on August 15, 1998.


NOVAK: We have a foreign policy, particularly with regard to Israel, which makes us hated by many people over the world. And since we are hated, we should really not have these exposed positions in these backwater countries with just these huge embassies -- I don't know why we need all those people anyway.

SHIELDS: Is Israel policy linked to the embassy?

O'BEIRNE: No, I'm not going join the Blame America Chorus, like we should maybe apologize for provoking the attack on us. The way to deal with it is effective retaliation; and this administration has not had a pattern of that. When Ronald Reagan struck in retaliation Libya, things quieted down for a while.

HUNT: Well, I want to disassociate myself with everything Robert Novak said, you know, for starters.

I mean, Kate, you're right. We did strike back against Libya; we should have. And then Pan Am 103 happened a couple years later. I mean, that's the great problem in this.

O'BEIRNE: Thirteen years later...


HUNT: No, I know. I think the larger point or conundrum here is that the purpose of American embassies is to be available and accessible to American tourists, to American businesspeople and to project the American presence and ideals. And if you want to set up a fortress-like, you know, American installations, it seems to me that's antithetical...

NOVAK: Do we have to have these Cold War-sized staffs all over the world? The Cold War is over, Al. We don't need that many people in Dar Es Salaam and Nairobi.


SHIELDS: Kate, President Clinton later ordered retaliation and that -- didn't that discourage anti-American terrorism?

O'BEIRNE: Not conspicuously, Mark. He made an ineffectual attack on a pharmaceutical factory. And a lot of people, because it was Bill Clinton, who had so little credibility, attributed to his terror of impeachment, and having a lot more to deal with than international terrorism.

The problem with international terrorism is something I certainly can't get my arms around, but I do know two things: We -- it shouldn't prompt us. The remedy is not to withdraw for our democratic ally in the Middle East, and our remedy is not to pull American influence out of the world and come back to fortress America. Those two things I do know.


NOVAK: I think everything I said I repeat: We don't have to have those big installations, the Cold War is over. And you're wrong about retaliation. We did retaliate; we didn't know where we were bombing. And it was not just a fear of impeachment, Kate, it was the day he admitted lying to the grand jury. So it was wagging the dog.

O'BEIRNE: Right.


HUNT: Well, Kate, on the first part, is right and Bob is wrong three years ago and today. That record remains unbroken. I do, however, think that the -- both the Clinton and the Reagan records are remarkably similar in retaliation. They both -- they both were reasonably ineffectual, unfortunately.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Yes, no difference, Mark. Embassy shrinkage, as get government of our backs, here -- maybe the Bush Administration will be more sympathetic to this. And I think that the level of discourse has come down, because I have not heard the word conundrum used since 1997, Al.

NOVAK: Why do we need those big embassies, Margaret?

CARLSON: To send telegrams back and forth and have embassy parties. Bob, I just want to play into your stereotype.

NOVAK: I think one of the sad things is this conservative administration probably won't reduce the size of those embassies.

HUNT: That is why Jesse Helms, the head of the Foreign Relations Committee for all those year, never did anything about that?

NOVAK: I think he would have liked to if he could.

SHIELDS: Last word, Bob Novak.

We'll be back in our second half our with the "Newsmaker of the Week." That's Republican Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico. "Beyond the Beltway": previewing the British elections for "The Washington Post," T.R. Reid. And our "Outrages of the Week," all after a check of the hour's top news.


SHIELDS: Welcome back to the second half of CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields with the full CAPITAL GANG: That's Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and Margaret Carlson.

Our "Newsmaker of the Week" is Republican Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico, the most prominent elected official advocating drug legalization.

Gary Johnson: age, 48; residence, Santa Fe, New Mexico; religion, Lutheran. Millionaire construction company owner. First governor of New Mexico elected to two consecutive four-year terms, 1994 and 1998. Has completed the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii three different times.

Al Hunt talked to Governor Gary Johnson earlier this week.


HUNT: New Mexico this week is hosting a four-day conference on a new drug policy for the new millennium, governor. What would you hope to accomplish for this conference?

GOV. GARY JOHNSON (R), NEW MEXICO: Well, first and foremost, this conference, very beneficial, 700 people from around the world talking about new drug strategies. And by new drug strategies: How do you reduce death; how do you reduce disease; and how do you reduce the crime associated with drug use?

HUNT: Governor, you are a physical fitness buff; you haven't talked alcohol, tobacco or drugs for years. You favor, however, the legalization of marijuana, and say it ought to be treated the same as alcohol. Your critics say that's a surrender to the drug culture.

JOHNSON: Absolutely not, Al. Again, fundamentally: Don't do drugs. But fundamentally, do you belong in jail for smoking marijuana in the confines of own home, doing no harm to anybody, arguably, other than yourself? I say no.

We cannot continue to arrest and incarcerate this country. We're arresting 1.6 million people a year in this country on drug-related crime. We need to arrest people that do drugs and do harm to other individuals.

HUNT: And governor, what do you say to people like the Drug Enforcement Administration that claims that, actually, drug use has been down with our tough policies of the last 20 years, and in those places that have legalized, like the Netherlands, that drug use it up?

JOHNSON: You know, that's -- it's a laugher, is what it is, Al. Drug use in the Netherlands, in Holland, is 60 percent as that of the United States. Their incarceration rate is 1/10 that of the United States.

So -- and then the claim by the Drug Enforcement Administration that drug use is down by some 12 million people over the last 20 years? Al, we've arrested more people than that over the last 20 years.

HUNT: Governor, as you know, the White House has tapped John Walters to the be the new drug czar, and he says it's a myth that are laws are too tough; they ought to be tougher. Should the Senate confirm Mr. Walters, and what impact would that have on the drug wars?

JOHNSON: Well, this is the status quo. And, you know, the status quo is going to continue ongoing until people stand up and until politicians stand up. We're not going to eliminate drugs from a free society. We can't eliminate drugs from our prison, much less a free society.

So let's draw a line. You know, smoke marijuana, get in a car, drive the car; you know what, you probably just crossed over the line to unacceptable behavior, similar to drinking. Drinking is OK as long as you don't have too many drinks and get in a car or have too many drinks and go do harm to somebody else. That's what should be criminal.

HUNT: Lets, for a moment, switch to the subject of energy. You have agreed with President Bush's opposition to any federal price caps on the price of electricity. Yet in northern New Mexico, I think this is right, natural gas producers get $4.50 per million Btu. It costs about a dollar to transport to California, yet it's selling there for $12 to $15, sometimes as high as $60. Is that a well functioning market, and who's making all the profits?

JOHNSON: Well, first of all, Al, we've got a problem in this country, it happens to be supply, it happens to be distribution of that supply. That is a short-term problem that, long-term, should get worked out.

But we've got to start conserving our energy. I don't know about you, but hey, you drive down the street and everybody's still driving one person per car. You know, this is not an energy crisis as far as I'm concerned. When prices get high enough, we're going to see real conservation take effect, and we'll see prices drop.

HUNT: Would you like, then, to see the Bush energy proposals reshaped to emphasize conservation more, and renewable sources of energy more? JOHNSON: Well, absolutely. That needs to be -- that needs to be out front more. I think that Bush is putting that out. There's a perception, though, that somehow it's not being played up as much as it should be. And it should be played up more. I mean, we need to conserve energy. We need to start riding a bike; we need to start carpooling.


SHIELDS: Al Hunt, can any political figure who champions the legalization of marijuana be taken seriously politically?

HUNT: You know, Mark, as the father of two teenage kids and an about-to-be teenager, I really think about this a lot and worry about it a lot. And I certainly would not be willing to go along with Governor Johnson's proposal to legalize marijuana.

But I must tell you, I think that he does make a persuasive case on the way the laws are enforced. It is ridiculous to try to throw someone in prison for smoking a joint in their own home. And I think some of these mandatory sentencing laws in drugs have been an absolute disaster.

And you know, he's not alone. Bill Buckley, your former publisher, George Soros, George Schultz -- there are others who are saying, let's rethink some of our drug laws.

SHIELDS: Rethink them, Bob Novak?

NOVAK: I was interested that Governor Johnson didn't come out as a legalizer until after he was reelected for his second term. With term limits in New Mexico he can never run for governor again. And his rating in the polls in New Mexico immediately went down. People don't want this legalized. We're not going to have package stores where you have kids come in -- are you -- Jenna, are you 21 years old, and we give you a little pot or something? I think it is a ridiculous concept, and I am embarrassed by that, not by -- you did a great interview, Hunt, but I was embarrassed by the governor.

SHIELDS: Former governor. Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Bob makes a good point. If a triathlete who doesn't drink or smoke or presumably take drugs, can't sell this idea. No politician can come out in favor of it. But they might be able it what Al suggests, which is to reduce the penalties. We know it is ridiculous to these people in jail. It was so interesting, the comment he made, which I hadn't thought about before, which is, the war on drugs is not going to succeed that well when we can't even keep people in prison under constant surveillance from using drugs.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: I think Governor Johnson deserves credit despite reason of after his second -- after his reelection for raising the issue. This law-and-order conservative does think we have to look seriously at whether or not we're at the point of diminishing returns and incarcerating non-violent drug offenders. And I'll tell you this, he's a lot closer to public opinion on medical marijuana, even though the public's not there on legalization, than Washington, D.C. politicians are.

SHIELDS: Last word, Kate O'Beirne.

The GANG of five will be joined by "The Washington Post"'s T.R. Reid from London to look at the upcoming British elections.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Labour Party are heavily favored to be returned to office in next week's British elections against William Hague's Conservative Party. A major issue dividing the candidates is whether the European currency should replace the British pound.


TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The most important thing, however, is for Britain not to end up separating ourselves out from Europe or losing influence in Europe.

WILLIAM HAGUE, CONSERVATIVE PARTY LEADER: I think the members of my party are absolutely clear that this is a major issue, keeping the pound is a major issue.

We are part of the best country in the world and we in the Conservative Party know that.


SHIELDS: Joining us now from London is T.R. Reid, the London bureau chief of "The Washington Post." Thank you for coming in, Tom.


SHIELDS: Tom, what would a Tony Blair and Labour Party reelection victory mean?

REID: Marks, I think you're right to say that Blair is going to win. He's way ahead in all the polls. And in this country they have this funny system. In England the guy who gets the most votes wins.


So he's going the win the thing.


SHIELDS: What would be the significance -- go ahead.

REID: And when he does, it's another center left government in Europe. Almost all of Europe is way to the left of the Bush administration and the United States just on the issue you were just talking about. All the European governments look the other way on marijuana use. They all let kids drink at 18 and don't blink their eye about it.

And I think you're also right that Blair is going to move England closer and closer -- Britain -- closer and closer to Europe and I think eventually they are going to join the euro, the single currency.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Doesn't he have a big choice though, Tom, between the United States and Europe, particularly when it comes to defense policy? I've heard some of his speeches saying he's going to be the middle man between Europe and the United States. Some people I've talked to in the Labour Party really believe that the prime minister who doesn't like to make these hard choices has to make this hard choice and certainly that has not been an issue in the campaign, has it?

REID: No. No, it hasn't been at all. I think he is going it have to make a decision about missile defense. And guess what? He is going to side with George Bush all the way. It would be very hard for Blair not to do that. The left wing of his own party will be against it but most of the British people will support that. The Conservative Party has already come out in favor of it, so Blair is going to go along with missile defense. The rest of Europe, that's a tougher call; but Tony Blair's government will.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Tom, "The New York Times" had a picture today of the ad that Tony Blair has just put up with William Hague looking like Margaret Thatcher with helmet hair and other little accoutrements of Margaret Thatcher. And what I wonder is if Labour is far ahead, Tony Blair is ahead, why would he go negative with an ad like that? Why would he be doing the whole Thatcher thing so much in that way?

REID: Thatcher is a very powerful tool for the Labour Party, sort of in the way Bill Clinton is a tool for the Republican Party in America. You want to hear Blair's best joke of the campaign? Here's his joke. He says, well, I saw the leader the Conservative Party on the stump the other day and William Hague was out there with her.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Holding her purse.

REID: He's harking back to Thatcher. Thatcher was a very powerful and successful politician here. But she is pretty unpopular now. She's remembered as an iron lady that nobody really liked at the end. So every time you bring up Margaret Thatcher it probably helps Labour.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: Tom, an awful lot of American conservatives are concerned about the growing -- many Americans concerned -- about the growing anti-Americanism expressed by Europeans.

If a Blair win means they are going to speed up European integration, Britain won't be digging its heels in, aside from missile defense, which is welcome news, any other good news in a big Blair win for people who worry about the critical importance of the North Atlantic Alliance?

REID: You know, I'm worried about it. I mean, everybody in the world likes to dump on America. I think they are all jealous of us. But I have never seen as much America bashing as I've seen in Europe since George W. Bush was elected. I mean the Bush bashing is just relentless over here.

George W. Bush is going to meet all the European prime ministers in Sweden in about two weeks and my guess is they are all going to come out of their one on one meetings and dump on him to their columnists because that's what they have been doing so far. I think the good news out of Britain is that Tony Blair has defined Britain as the bridge nation. That's what they are. They're going to be sort of the stepping point between Europe and America.

If that's what he is he's got to get along with George W. Bush. So he's going to try to remain friendly. The Germans, the French, the Italians, the Swedes -- no, I think they are really on the war path.


HUNT: Tom Reid, you not only are a favorite to reed about British elections but you've been one of the great political reporters in America for a long time. Just for a minute, tell us the similarities or different dynamics between the British electorate and election and the American electorate or election?

REID: Al, there's kind of a charming innocence here I think. There are several sort of cycles behind us. For example, this year when Tony Blair announced his candidacy for re-election he went to a school and he stood in assembly with all the students and made this announcement because he's going to prove he's dedicated to education.

This is about the most standard thing in American politics. We wouldn't even blink an eye and everybody here savaged him for putting on this show. He should have stood up in the parliament and done it. It was too managed, it was and too polished. And so there's that difference and then the other really major difference for any of us American political reporters is how far to the left of our campaigns this one is.

I mean if you take William Hague, he's the Conservative leader, right? Now, this guy, he supports free cradle to grave medical care for everybody. He supports the right to abortion paid for by the government. He supports a total ban on hand guns. He supports these education subsidies so that the government pays 95 percent of every college tuition. You go Oxford it cost you $1,300 bucks a year, and he's the right-winger in this election.

SHIELDS: He sounds like a Jim Jeffords Republican. NOVAK: Tom, the thing that I don't understand talking to some of my friends in the British politics is that there's absolutely no interest in tax cutting in Britain. They want effective government services. There's about half the people in this country who feel the same way but there's a great debate that goes on on that. But that debate is over and that really kills the Tories, doesn't it, that tax cut appeals have no interest?

REID: That's exactly right, Bob. Hague has proposed the Conservatives call themselves the Low Tax Party. They have proposed a tax cut that is less than 1 percent as much as the one that Senate just passed. And even on that, the man gets criticized every time. Every time he mentions tax cuts, Tony Blair says oh, he means spending cuts. And spending cuts are bad.

They have a high tax party here. They have a party that's doing quite well in this campaign running on the platform we're going to raise your taxes and spend more money. Yeah, this -- the whole kind of mind-set in European politics is way to the left of ours. This is a tax, high services place.

SHIELDS: Tom Reid I join Al Hunt, I think I speak for the hole panel, you're a joy to read, you're even a greater joy to have on the air and we thank you very much. The gang will be back with the outrage of the week.


SHIELDS: Now for the "Outrage of the Week."

Inscribed on the Statue of Liberty are the words of Emma Lazarus: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

Forget those noble words, those high ideals. The Bush Administration has a market-driven theory of who's welcome to the United States. If you seek a visa to work in the United States, you no longer have to wait in line. You can buy "premium processing," quote, unquote, for $1,000 cash money, and then go to the front of the line. Lady Liberty must be weeping tonight.

NOVAK: On "EVANS, NOVAK, HUNT & SHIELDS" last Saturday, Senate Majority Leader-To-Be Tom Daschle opposed ideological tests for judges but did not want nominations from the far right. Did that rule out Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia?


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: I supported Justice Scalia.


NOVAK: But the next day on "Meet The Press" when Tim Russert asked whether Daschle he would support Scalia for chief justice, the senator demurred.


DASCHLE: Justice Scalia is on the far, far right, and that's disconcerting to many of us.


NOVAK: What in the world happened to Tom Daschle over those 24 hours?

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Mark, thanks to Bloomberg News and "Slate" magazine, we learned that the bankrupt California utility PG&E wants $17.5 million in bonuses for its top management. This is the same management team that spent $22 million to lobby for the deregulation that helped drive it to bankruptcy.

Management worries that is if it doesn't pay itself these bonuses, it will have a hard time retaining itself. These geniuses already awarded themselves $50 million just minutes before declaring bankruptcy. Shouldn't we hope they leave?

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: We have endured a week of commentary on Senator Jeffords' bolt from the GOP that generally declared the party too conservative for Vermont's principled moderate. For 20 years, Jeffords has been a liberal at odds with his party. He opposed Reagan's tax cuts, opposed missile defense, school choice, aid to the contras, while backing nuclear freezes, Hillary health care reform and abortion on demand. But, there was no principled defection until opportunism came knocking.


HUNT: Mark, the Bush White House insisted a top priority in its huge tax cut was the proposal to let 85 million Americans who don't itemize on their tax returns to take a charitable deduction. Bush and the Republicans however dropped this provision like a hot potato, selling out those charities so they could get more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

They claim Congress can come back later and do the charitable write-off. OK, but only if offset by comparable cuts in the outrageous repeal of the estate tax or the reductions for most affluent.

SHIELDS: This is Mark Shields saying good night for the CAPITAL GANG. CNN TONIGHT is next. Here's the preview with Martin Savidge.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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