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CNN CAPITAL GANG

Howard Dean's Rise to DNC Chairmanship; Super Bowl Talk; Pope's Health Crisis

Aired February 5, 2005 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANNOUNCER: From Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.
AL HUNT, GUEST HOST: Welcome to THE CAPITAL GANG. I'm Al Hunt with the full GANG -- Mark Shields, Margaret Carlson, Kate O'Beirne, and in Miami, Robert Novak.

In his State of the Union address, President Bush laid out a few details of his proposed personal Social Security accounts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt.

I have a message for every American who is 55 or older. Do not let anyone mislead you. For you, the Social Security system will not change in any way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: The president also outlined a variety of other domestic proposals.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Justice is distorted and our economy is held back by irresponsible class actions and frivolous asbestos claims. And I urge Congress to pass legal reforms this year.

I urge Congress to pass legislation that makes America more secure and less dependent on foreign energy.

For the good of families, children and society, I support a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: The president concluded with the war in Iraq, promising to improve Iraqi security forces.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: As those forces become more self-reliant and take on greater security responsibilities, America and its coalition partners will increasingly be in a supporting role. We will not set an artificial timetable for leaving Iraq because that would embolden the terrorists and make them believe they can wait us out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: Mark, did the president do what he had to do in the State of the Union?

MARK SHIELDS, CAPITAL GANG: Well, the first thing he did, Al, was he did not have a crowd. There were only 38 million Americans who tuned in, which is 30 million fewer than watched Bill Clinton just 12 years earlier and considerably fewer than watched the president when he made his Iraq statement.

The president basically took the two biggest questions about the central domestic initiative of his administration, which is Social Security, and punted. He didn't talk about how he was going to finance the transition costs, which are considerable, and even acknowledged by his own administration. And he didn't talk about cutting the benefits. He's obviously trying to follow the plan that worked in 2001 for him on the tax cuts: campaigning state by state, where Democratic senators are. The difference, Al, is in 2001, it was all pleasure and it was painless. You were voting -- you were Santa Claus if you voted for tax cuts. Now it's cold showers and root canal work. It's a lot tougher sell.

HUNT: Bob Novak, how does it look to you down in Miami?

ROBERT NOVAK, CAPITAL GANG: Al, it -- there's no question that the president is not going to go out there and say, We're going to cut benefits and we're going to -- it's going to cost so much. The whole transition cost is a very controversial question, how much more it's going to cost than it would just to get the system back in shape. So -- but if you want to say that if he told some of the details, how much percentage of -- percentage points there'll be out of the personal accounts -- I thought he did -- he did very well. I thought he was very well, too, on -- did very well on Iraq. I thought he was very comfortable, a much better speech, a much more natural speech than his rather forced inaugural address.

SHIELDS: Margaret, did you see it more like Mark or more like Bob?

MARGARET CARLSON, CAPITAL GANG: I thought it was much better than the inaugural speech. The hug was a great moment, very emotional. But on Social Security, Bob is wrong. You can't say it's the most important thing on your domestic agenda and then not have a plan and not have the specifics. It's -- and the other thing is, he did make one point which was very good, which is to say anybody over 55, you don't have to worry, nothing's going to change.

But here's the thing about personal accounts. Fairly soon, people are going to make the connection that there's nothing about saving Social Security -- and let's stipulate any figures you want, that it's a crisis, it has to be saved -- that personal accounts are going to fix. That's just some other scheme that he has. It's not connected to fixing Social Security.

HUNT: Well, Kate, also, the conservative Republican Jim McCrery of Louisiana, who chairs the Social Security subcommittee in the House, on Ways and Means, I think said that private accounts were basically, as the president proposed them, a non-starter. That's not a very good sign for him.

KATE O'BEIRNE, CAPITAL GANG: We are in the -- I would caution -- I would caution all of us because this is going to be a big debate, and it's going to take ensuing months -- caution all of us to read too much into individual members being quoted in the media. As a general proposition, the president, having gone last week to talk to House Republicans, went a long way towards convincing them, getting them to embrace the overall idea. Of course, he's not -- this is the introduction to this. Of course, he's not laying out specifics. What he did the other evening was talk about the broad parameters and put very few things off the table.

CARLSON: But Kate, he says he's never...

O'BEIRNE: It was...

CARLSON: ... giving specifics.

O'BEIRNE: It was a very...

CARLSON: He's leaving that to the Congress.

O'BEIRNE: It was -- well, he's -- the specifics are going to coalesce around what has majority vote, as long as it doesn't violate some of the fundamental principles. Based on the response, the reviews, it was a very successful speech. Three quarters of those who did watch it, Mark, thought the president's agenda put us on the right track, went in the right direction. Three quarters of those who listened thought the president made a convincing case on Social Security. He's going to have to make it a lot more often...

HUNT: Bob...

O'BEIRNE: ... but so far, so good.

HUNT: Bob Novak, do you think the president holds the high ground on Social Security right now?

R. NOVAK: I think that Democrats are putting themselves in a very bad position. It's quite different from President Clinton's position, which was there was a problem with Social Security and we have to do something about it. Now this -- John Kerry tried it in the campaign, saying there is no problem, there is no crisis. We don't have to do anything. And I believe there is a lot of appeal for younger voters on these personal accounts.

So I would say that although today he doesn't have the votes, I think it'd be very foolish to vote against -- to bet against President Bush at this moment.

HUNT: Mark Shields?

SHIELDS: I think what Bob is really talking about is an essential divide in this country between sort of competing narratives of the United States and our history. One is that -- the rugged individualist out there, self-sufficient, taking on all comers and prevailing. And the other is the little town banding together to build the church, build the school, everybody pitching in. Social Security very much follows that second model, and it's very much of a "we" effort, rather than a "me" effort. And I think that -- we're going to see that debated, and it's really -- that's the fundamental question of this whole change, Al, is whether we're in it together or we're in it alone.

HUNT: Yes, Kate.

O'BEIRNE: Well, the president the other evening talked in inspirational terms, painting a bold vision. After he completed his speech, Harry Reid spoke on behalf of the Democrats. Mark, I never -- I don't think they've ever sounded smaller and more tinny.

HUNT: But that's always the case with the response to the State of the Union.

O'BEIRNE: Well, except...

CARLSON: Yes.

O'BEIRNE: Except, Al, George Bush is talking about a dream of democracy and ending tyranny. And what was Harry Reid's big dream? A 10-year-old that he talks about who wants to grow up to be just like Harry Reid? That's pretty small!

HUNT: Margaret, do you think...

(CROSSTALK)

HUNT: ... get away with avoiding any talk about the pain for the whole...

CARLSON: No. And you know, the only -- he said in the speech, Oh, we're going to control fees, like that was giving a specific. It's not a giveaway to Wall Street. He's going to have to come up with a plan himself. He can't just leave it to the Congress.

HUNT: OK. All right.

R. NOVAK: Let me add one thing.

HUNT: Bob, I'll give you 10 seconds.

R. NOVAK: He got Iraq out of the headlines with his State of the Union. I didn't think he could, but he did.

HUNT: Yes, he did for a couple days.

CARLSON: Well, he did it with the vote. HUNT: THE GANG will be back with the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HUNT: Welcome back. Democrats lined up in opposition to Alberto Gonzales for attorney general.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: By the time we finish the debate, I think that he will demonstrate bipartisan support and will be confirmed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: However, 35 Democrats and one independent voted against him as he was confirmed 60 to 36.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: My reasons for voting against Judge Gonzales arise from the need for accountability, derived from the nominee's involvement in the formulation of a number of policies that have tarnished our country's moral leadership in the world and put American soldiers and American citizens at greater risk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: Six Democrats voted for confirmation, including one former presidential candidate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: I have to ask myself, because of a memo written by somebody else, which has in it material that I find, as I've said, profoundly offensive, that Judge Gonzales received and did something with, am I prepared to vote to deny him confirmation as attorney general of the United States? And to me personally, that would be an unjust result.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: Bob, why were there so many votes against Judge Gonzales?

R. NOVAK: It was Democratic strategy. The Democrats have decided they want to try to use the second term nominations, when possible, to make points against Bush's policies -- President Bush's policy, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, they did it -- they made this nine-hour debate on the policy in Iraq, didn't have the guts to go as far as casting votes against an African-American woman being secretary of state. But they decided that they would use Alberto Gonzales as the -- as the battering ram -- or battering him, I should say, on the question of the Abu Ghraib scandal. It's just absolutely absurd, as Joe Lieberman said, in convicting him on the basis of a memo somebody else wrote. HUNT: Margaret, was it that unjustified?

CARLSON: I think many of those who voted against Gonzales did it with great reluctance because Senator Orrin Hatch laid down the gauntlet: Hispanic-Americans are going to be very suspicious of any of you Democrats who vote against Gonzales, which wasn't the case at all. Everybody admires his story, and no one voted against him for that. But if you do need a battering ram. He did condone torture in Abu Ghraib, and somebody needs to be held accountable. And your -- you sometimes have to hold accountable the person who legally justified it.

Chris Dodd of Connecticut voted differently from Senator Lieberman, and he gave a wonderful speech about -- his father was a prosecutor at Nuremberg, and he said that even against the Nazis, we had a -- we had a trial. We had a court of law. We applied rule of law even to the Nazis. And we're not doing it here.

HUNT: Kate, the Democrats didn't make clear...

O'BEIRNE: There is...

HUNT: ... this was a symbolic vote. They didn't try to -- they didn't try to filibuster it. They didn't try to delay the nomination.

O'BEIRNE: If they have some sort of an overall strategy that they think somehow benefits, it sure eludes me! Al Gonzales did not condone the behavior at Abu Ghraib. In no way, shape or form did he do so. The reason why we had trials following World War II is because we were up against an organized state, organized soldiers in uniforms who abided by the rules of law when it -- the rules of war when it came to our POWs.

If the Democrats want to make the case to the American public that al Qaeda ought to enjoy more rights than an accused American citizen, if he's accused of a crime, then they are certainly free to do so. But that is not where the American public is with respect to al Qaeda. They make war on civilians. They haven't earned the protections of the Geneva convention. It makes all soldiers less safe when the -- when operations like al Qaeda don't abide. And I -- it amazes me that this is what the Democrats -- this is the argument the Democrats want to be making.

HUNT: Mark Shields?

SHIELDS: Al, first of all, it took Al Gonzales two years to disown that memo. It didn't happen until the campaign of 2004, I'd point out. Was it a politically astute move to oppose the first Latino attorney general of the United States? No. Every ethnic group that feels itself left out of the mainstream, or religious group, obviously feels a sense of pride and unity when one of their own is elevated.

I think it was Al Gonzales's own testimony, its evasiveness, its non-responsiveness, that took Democrats, who did not intend to vote against him, and in fact, voted for him -- and the point about torture -- I'd simply say all you have to do is talk to anybody who has been a POW. And if there's any group of individuals who are more strenuous and more emphatic against any form of torture, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ineffective or the fear of reprisal on our own service people, it is they.

O'BEIRNE: Nobody...

HUNT: Well, I just had...

R. NOVAK: I have -- I have...

O'BEIRNE: Nobody's endorsing -- just a minute, Bob! Nobody's endorsing torture! John McCain voted for Al Gonzales. I mean, this is ridiculous! He himself said, of course, he's opposed to torture!

HUNT: Bob, you want to get a word in?

R. NOVAK: I have to say that the idea that this was a -- these very troubled 36 Democratic senators -- they like Al Gonzales but they have to vote against him -- that's just nonsense! This was a coolly calculated strategy that they were going to publicize what they think is a good issue. I agree with Kate, I don't think it's a good issue. Two weeks ago, there were no votes against him! There were none against Gonzales for nomination! Now there's 36! They -- Mark, the only ones who didn't vote against him were five from -- from red states, couple of them up for tough reelection fights, the two Nelsons from Nebraska and Florida, and Joe Lieberman. Joe Lieberman now is -- is the real old Joe Lieberman, now that he's not running for president. I thought it was a great speech he made. I thought it was the best speech in Gonzales's favor on the floor.

HUNT: Well, I would just point out that two weeks ago or three weeks ago, whenever those -- there were no Democrats, that was before Judge Gonzales had stonewalled the Congress on the information that they were seeking.

Next -- I'll have the last word because next on CAPITAL GANG: Is Howard Dean a done deal for DNC chair?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back. Howard Dean has virtually clinched the DNC chairmanship with the endorsement from the state chairmen and neutrality by organized labor. His principal rival, former congressman Martin Frost, dropped out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD DEAN, DNC CHAIRMAN CANDIDATE: We can not be Republican light if you want to win elections.

I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for.

TIM ROEMER, DNC CHAIRMAN CANDIDATE: We need a chair, ladies and gentlemen, that doesn't just only represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: Margaret, why has Howard Dean apparently wrapped up the DNC chairmanship?

CARLSON: Well, the competition was not all that keen. But Howard Dean is a lifelong centrist.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: He was head of the National Governors Association. He was a fiscal conservative. He was against the war, and he was portrayed as being left-wing, which he really -- he just is not. Then the right-wing media kind of portrayed him as an extremist, and then the mainstream media took the -- took the scream tape and turned him into kind of a nut. But I think he's transcended that since he's begun this. And even during the rest of the campaign, he was helpful, shrewd. He's been cheerful. He's not as down as the rest of the Democrats. And he can give a speech. He can talk. I think he is a great choice.

HUNT: He's "The National Review's" candidate for president, wasn't he, Kate?

O'BEIRNE: Absolutely. All I can say is, the Democratic Party is clearly endorsing doctor-assisted suicide! And I see that the rehabilitation of Howard Dean is already under way. He ran as a left- winger in the presidential campaign. If Howard Dean is the answer, what is the question? I guess the question is, How can we do more of the same? How can we look even weaker on national security, more out of touch and liberal on social issues? How can we -- how can we express the depth of our anger and contempt at Republicans? Those must be the questions, if Howard Dean's the answer.

HUNT: Mark Shields?

SHIELDS: I'm sorry for Kate, and I'm sure Bob, as well, that they haven't followed the great model of the Republicans to get a K Street lobbyist. They've actually looked outside to get someone who has been a governor, balanced the budget, who's been a family physician.

But the reason he got it, Al, is two factors. One, Howard Dean, after -- first of all, he set the pace on the Internet. I mean, he is the pioneer, and the Democrats are greedy to get some of that -- that magic into the party. And John Kerry built on that example.

Secondly, after he lost to John Kerry, he worked full-time for Kerry, just full-time. He forgot all the pain and anguish and hurt of losing. The other factor -- and this is one the Republicans don't want to talk about -- two party chairs on television, Ken Mehlman -- brilliant operative, not a particularly compelling public presence -- and Howard Dean, who is a great phrase maker and has great media presence.

O'BEIRNE: Great phrase maker! (LAUGHTER)

SHIELDS: I will tell you -- I'll tell you -- who would you rather have?

O'BEIRNE: I'll take that...

(CROSSTALK)

HUNT: Wait a minute. I'm going to go...

R. NOVAK: If I could say...

HUNT: Bob Novak, let me just ask you, and you can ask -- answer any way you want. But in over 35 years in Washington, I have never seen a party chair who really set the public tone or image for a party. Why is it going to be any different this time?

R. NOVAK: No, I thought Strauss -- Bob Strauss set the party -- the image for the party. But we don't want to go into that now, the history. But I will say -- I will say this. This -- this is suicidal and lunatic by the Democratic Party, and that is an opinion shared by a lot of Democrats that I talk to.

This man can't control what he says. We had that little sound bite from the last forum in New York, where he said that he hates the Republican Party! You -- I -- a normal politician doesn't use the word "hate" by talking about his opposition. He says things like this all the time. He said it during the campaign, and that's why he eventually lost. But they have shut him up since that forum in New York. He doesn't say anything (UNINTELLIGIBLE) But you can't shut him up once he's elected! I would say the Republicans would welcome him with Mehlman. Mehlman's not going to say anything stupid, and it's predictable that Dean's going to say a lot of stupid things when he gets on television because he always has!

HUNT: Robert, I am delighted that you have now come out against any kind of vitriol, and I can't wait for your next column or commentary on the outrageous...

R. NOVAK: But I'm not running for chairman!

HUNT: ... on the outrageous things that Tom DeLay has said, the incendiary things he's said that are just so mean-spirited that I'm sure it's going to shock you.

Coming up next in the second half of THE CAPITAL GANG, our "Newsmaker of the Week" is Steve Sabol of NFL Films dissecting tomorrow's Super Bowl. We'll go "Beyond the Beltway" to talk about the future of the papacy with scholar and author Michael Novak. And our "Outrages of the Week" all after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

HUNT: Welcome back to the second half of CAPITAL GANG.

Our "Newsmaker of the Week" is Steve Sabol, President of NFL Films. I've known Steve Sabol since he was a toddler and we played together on our mediocre prep school football team when he was the star but very slow running back. On Friday, I spoke with Steve Sabol.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HUNT: Steve, one of your genius qualities is to cover these big games, not just as a contest but to fashion a narrative. What is the narrative for Super Bowl XXXVIV?

STEVE SABOL, NFL FILMS PRESIDENT: Well, Al, this is the first time in ten years that the two top seeds have met in the Super Bowl and with the Patriots you have a team that's playing for their place in history. The Eagles are playing for their first championship since 1960.

And, if the Weather Channel were reporting on this, they could call this a category 5. This is two gale force powers, the two most dominant teams in the NFL over the last four years, are going to meet and decide the championship of the NFL.

HUNT: Well to stick with the Eagles for a second, as you last know the last time they won a championship was 1960. You and I were just getting out of Haverford School. They've never won a Super Bowl.

SABOL: That's right.

HUNT: Before this year they lost three straight NFC championship games. They are the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL. Is that history irrelevant tomorrow or is it a plus or minus?

SABOL: No, it means nothing to these players. The strength of the Eagles is in their coaching with Andy Reid and to me Andy's strength as a coach is he's very meticulous. He's very orderly and, most of all, he's very, very controlled, very calm. He's like a giant human Tums that can absorb all the acid and controversy and distractions, keep the scene focused and also always sticks to his game plan. He's a -- he is just as good a coach, just as good a planner as Belichick.

HUNT: On that game plan will T.O. play tomorrow and does it matter?

SABOL: The history of the NFL is filled with players who played with broken bones. Jack Youngblood, Dwight White was plagued with 105 temperature in Super Bowl IX, Jerry Rice played the second half of his Super Bowl he couldn't raise his arm above his shoulder. I think T.O. plays. I don't think he's going to be as much of a factor as Brian Westbrook will be.

HUNT: A lot of hoopla over the Eagles' Freddie Mitchell dissing the Patriots. Is that just hype or can one team really get a psychological edge from this kind of volleying? SABOL: No, I don't think so. I mean there's so much hype down here now, Al, that almost Freddie Mitchell is lost amongst all the parties and the hoopla and everything. That's -- that's for the Sunday gas bags to talk about. That doesn't mean anything.

HUNT: OK. If the Patriots win their third Super Bowl in four years, how would they rank in the pantheon of great teams, the '50s Browns, the Packers of the '60s, the Steelers in the '70s, the 49ers and Gibbs' Redskins? How would you then rate the Patriots?

SABOL: Well, Al, the word dynasty has been used a lot but to me a dynasty is over a long period of time. In my mind, there are four great dynasties in the history of the game, Paul Brown Browns of the 1950s, Lombardi's Packers, Chuck Noll's Steelers and Bill Walsh's 49ers. You look at the 49ers they won five Super Bowls over a period of 20 years and they were always -- they always had ten wins. They were always in the playoffs.

What the Patriots can achieve, three Super Bowls in four years, has only been done by Lombardi, he won five championships in seven years, and by Jimmy Johnson's Cowboys. They are a great team, great achievement. As far as a dynasty we will have to wait for that.

There's always a rush to put a historical context in every Super Bowl. Give them time. What they've achieved right now is truly remarkable.

HUNT: Is Belichick the best coach since Lombardi?

SABOL: Yes, he is -- he's a great coach. I wouldn't compare him to Lombardi. Lombardi always believed that execution was more important than planning. Belichick is the opposite. He believes that planning and game planning and match ups are the most important.

Belichick I would compare to Paul Brown. He's the Paul Brown of his era. Paul Brown believed the secret to successful coaching was to put the right player at the right place at the right time and that's exactly Belichick's philosophy, except Belichick calls that match ups and situational football.

HUNT: OK. Steve, two years ago you correctly predicted the Bucs would defeat the Steelers -- the Raiders rather but the Patriots jinxed you.

SABOL: Yes.

HUNT: In 2002 and last year against Carolina. Let's take a look.

Do the Patriots have any shot?

SABOL: No. I'm going to pick the Panthers winning this game.

HUNT: A chance for redemption. Will Stephen Douglas Sabol go against the Patriots for the third time? Who wins Super Bowl XXXIX? SABOL: I'm going to go with the Eagles because I think this game can be very close and McNabb is the kind of a quarterback that if it's close in the fourth quarter he can give the Patriots a lot of trouble.

They're very good against system quarterbacks like Peyton Manning but McNabb has that sense of bravado. He's adventurous. He's unpredictable. If it's close in the fourth quarter, I think the Eagles are going to win it.

HUNT: Well, you stuck with your roots, Steve. Thank you so much and we all can't wait to watch the game tomorrow and then NFL Films afterwards. Thanks a lot.

SABOL: OK, Al.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HUNT: Mark, you're a native New Englander. Who's going to win?

SHIELDS: Al, with unmatched stupidity Rush Limbaugh said the only reason Donovan McNabb, the great African American quarterback, is playing for the Eagles is because he was an African American. He was wrong, of course. He's a great quarterback. The Patriots will win on Sunday. I'm sorry for you and Steve Sabol.

HUNT: OK, Bob Novak?

R. NOVAK: Steve Sabol is a great filmmaker, not such a good prognosticator. He's a two-time loser betting against the Patriots. He's going to be a three-time loser Sunday.

HUNT: Margaret, I know you're on the edge of your seat.

CARLSON: Now that I know who's playing, I'm of course for the Eagles because I'm from Pennsylvania.

HUNT: Kate?

O'BEIRNE: My prediction is I'll get all caught up in the game on Sunday and within a matter of days I'll even forget who was playing. Am I the only one?

HUNT: The New England jinx will still, I'm so going to hurt my friend Steve Sabol, the Patriots unfortunately will win but the Eagles will cover the spread.

Coming up THE CAPITAL GANG classic, the axis of evil unveiled three years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Here's your CAPITAL GANG trivia question of the week. Which president, after learning of numerous injuries related to football, proposed a bill to ban the sport? A) Jimmy Carter; B) Herbert Hoover; or C) Theodore Roosevelt. We'll have the answer right after the break. (END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Before the break we asked which president proposed a bill to ban the sport of football? The answer is C, Theodore Roosevelt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: Welcome back.

Three years ago, President George Bush made this declaration in his State of the Union address.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil arming to threaten the peace of the world. We'll be deliberate yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events while dangers gather.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: THE CAPITAL GANG discussed this on February 2, 2002. Our guest was Democratic Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

R. NOVAK: I have never heard of anything quite like this. This was a surprise to indicate that imminent action, military action, was against these three we used to call them rogue nations. The nexus, the connection, with the events of September 11th is very dim.

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I would love dearly to see all three of those nations governed very differently. The notion that you lump them all together and that you make this kind of a threat and call them an axis, I just think it's very poor public policy.

HUNT: I think the North Korean and the Iranian warnings really was just rhetoric. Iraq is quite a different matter and I think -- I think Bush laid down the marker and I think for better or worse now if Saddam is not gone in two or two and a half years it's going to be -- it's going to hurt Bush politically.

O'BEIRNE: He's now drawing our attention in really a frightening speech I think with legitimate reason to the commonality those three do have, which is that the three of them are on the State Department's list of states that sponsor terrorists and the three of them are also developing weapons of mass destruction.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HUNT: Kate, looking back, did President Bush go too far with his axis of evil speech?

O'BEIRNE: I think what he told us three years ago holds up well, Al. Iran and North Korea command the world's attention because they are dangerous regimes developing the most destructive weapons ever known.

HUNT: Mark.

SHIELDS: And, Al, the CIA officially revealed this week, announced that in 1991 Saddam Hussein had not even remotely approached these weapons of mass destruction. But I think what we've seen since is that rolling out the rhetorical artillery is a lot easier than dealing with these nations on a day-by-day basis.

HUNT: Bob, do you feel as negative about it now as you did back then?

R. NOVAK: I'm more negative about it. I think it served no useful purpose. It did not help with the very difficult problems in Iran and North Korea, which I think the president has been very fastidious and prudent in handling but that was just the cheap thrill, a cheap applause line and I'm glad he didn't have anything like that in this year's State of the Union speech.

HUNT: Margaret.

CARLSON: The commonality is between North Korea and Iran because they do have weapons of mass destruction. We knew -- we should have known that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction since that's the country that President Bush chose to go into.

HUNT: Well, I can't help but note that the early returns indicate that the big winner in the Iraqi elections, which we all celebrated on Sunday, are the Iran friendly Shiites, which poses all kinds of questions for the region.

Next on CAPITAL GANG, we'll go "Beyond the Beltway" to discuss the future of the papacy with Michael Novak.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HUNT: Welcome back.

Pope John Paul II took ill this week. That resumed speculation about the future of the papacy and the church. Joining us here in Washington is scholar of religion Michael Novak from the American Enterprise Institute. Michael, it's great to have you here.

MICHAEL NOVAK, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Great to be with you.

HUNT: Thank you for coming.

Michael, any sense of what kind of successor will follow John Paul? M. NOVAK: Everybody who tries to predict that is always embarrassed by it later. I would say this much. You're not going to find anybody like him. He's been -- he's been an incredible pope, I think one of the greatest since the very beginning and I think the third longest serving since the very beginning. Only Peter himself and then Pius XI in the last century had longer pontificates.

Last time there was a long pontificate, Pius XI, a little over 100 years ago, they decided to take an older man, then 68, which is pretty old, frail, ghostly looking, Leo XIII and he lived until he was 93.

He stayed the pope from 1878 I think to 1903. So, you know, the Holy Spirit outguessed them. The usual rhythm is after a long one they like a short one to take care of the housekeeping but that didn't work.

HUNT: Robert Novak.

R. NOVAK: Yes. Along that line, Michael, is there a kind of a speculation that the next pope, besides being older, will be -- go back to somebody from the Italian bureaucracy rather than a free thinker and somebody who is not tied down by Rome, such as Cardinal Wojtyla was?

M. NOVAK: Well, I don't -- well, I don't think Wojtyla was. I think it was a bit of shock to Rome all around but there's a good chance it won't be an Italian, there's a very -- it will not be an Italian but it could be. There are a couple of really good people there.

One of them is Ruini, who is the vicar, the pope's vicar for actually the city of Rome. He's a terrific, terrific man and kind of a favorite of the pope's. Scola, a younger man in Venice, good scholar like Wojtyla, good English, good you know poise in the world, so it could be an Italian.

But also there's a lot more speculation I think that on an early ballot, if there is an early ballot, it could be Cardinal Ratzinger who is 78. He's admired for his holiness and his poise and his seriousness and, of course, his knowledge of the faith and well spoken.

And, if there is an early favorite, favorite is not the right word, but if there's an early person that everybody respects and might turn to it could be Ratzinger but we don't know, you know. This man is a strong man. He could go on for years yet.

HUNT: Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: Michael, of course, John Paul II is 84 years old and when I read that some cardinals are discussing the need to impose a retirement age of 80 on the pope, first I thought, oh ye of little faith, but I wondered, Michael, do you think that that's a widespread feeling on the part of cardinals and what do you make of it? M. NOVAK: Well, I think a more interesting problem and a more crucial problem is modern medicine can keep you going so well nowadays that there's not a mechanism for deciding when a pope is not able to function anymore. And, you know, he could come back but you don't know. I think that's a much trickier issue but until now that's just not been a problem. Death just takes people away or did so quickly.

But I want to just make clear that this man, he looks very frail and he can't control his musculature because of the Parkinson's and, you know, he likes to do things with his face. He was an artist, an actor, but now he can't. But inside he's a solid oak. He's a good Polish oak.

HUNT: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Has the crisis in the American church had -- will it have any effect on the cardinals, the sexual abuse scandal here as they go to vote?

M. NOVAK: Well, I think it was sobering. I think the reputation of Americans had been rising in Rome and I think this hurt a bit that the church has not been so well run as people had imagined.

So, that's all I could offer on that. But then it's a warning to the whole church, you know. James Joyce said the Catholic Church is here. Come everybody. You know and we have our share of sinners all the way through, always have in the papacy.

(CROSSTALK)

HUNT: One, that's not is Mark Shields who has a question.

SHIELDS: Thank you. Michael, one reading said that there have been three African popes, one Palestinian, eight Syrians and an Englishman. Now is it likely that the Italian lobby having lost control of the papacy for now approaching a quarter of a century, more than a quarter century excuse me, with Pope John Paul II, I mean is there a likelihood that they'll unify on the balloting?

M. NOVAK: It wouldn't matter. Of approximately 130 cardinals eligible to vote as of now, all those who are at least 80 up until the day of the pope's death can vote. Out of those, only 20-some are Italian, so they're just not a block big enough.

But there is some sentiment around the church that letting somebody do the housekeeping, pay more attention to the needs of Rome as Rome because this pope changed the nature of the papacy.

John Paul II made the papacy a worldwide parish. He went everywhere. He is the human being of all human beings who has been seen physically by more other human beings than anybody in history, you know, five million on one occasion in Manila.

HUNT: Michael, we only have 30 seconds left, but is there a growing divide between the western world church, if you will, not just America but Europe and the third world Catholic Church? M. NOVAK: I don't think so. I think people are -- have slowly become aware that the Catholic Church is the fastest growing church in the world and it's almost entirely in the third world.

HUNT: Right.

M. NOVAK: So, the third world church vastly outnumbers Europe and America, not in cardinals. They have only 40 percent but they're growing and there's a willingness to have leadership come from there now.

HUNT: Michael Novak, thank you so much for being with us tonight.

THE GANG will be back with our "Outrages of the Week."

THE CAPITAL GANG FACT: Officially, any practicing Roman Catholic male is eligible to be elected pope. However, since the 1300's the pope has always been chosen from among high-ranking clergymen called cardinals.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HUNT: And now for the "Outrages of the Week."

The New York Stock Exchange's confidential report, compiled by outside counsel Dan Webb on former big board chief Dick Grasso's compensation was disclosed this week. The greed and irresponsibility was even worse than imagined.

Gross, the head of a quasi-public institution, not only raked in over $192 million for himself but was lavish with those around him, $130,000 for each of his chauffeurs. It's still unclear whether much of this was done with or without the knowledge of the stock exchange board but someone needs to be accountable.

O'BEIRNE: Former President Jose Maria Aznar of Spain spoke this week in Washington. He said European leaders underestimate the stakes in the war on terrorism and the threat posed by Islamic fundamentalism. He praised the sacrifices of Americans to advance peace and freedom and believes an ungrateful world takes America's indispensable leadership for granted.

Aznar lost the presidency following the terrorist bombings in Madrid when Spanish voters, unlike brave Iraqis, chose to appease their attackers and we lost a courageous, clear-eyed ally.

HUNT: Margaret.

CARLSON: Al, Bush's new prescription drug benefit will now cover Viagra, so as not to discriminate against men. Well, women have been discriminated against for years in that birth control pills are not covered. So, no to the pill which can prevent unwanted pregnancies but, yes, to Viagra which can, well, it's a family show I won't get into it. The little pink pill was excluded as a "lifestyle not a lifesaving drug." Watch the Cialis ads this weekend during the Super Bowl and decide what those little blue pills are for.

HUNT: Mark, change the subject.

SHIELDS: American politics today is humorless. A book of spontaneous George Bush one liners could be the world's thinnest. So, let's welcome country musician and mystery writer Kinky Friedman now running for governor of Texas.

A couple of Friedman gems on his state of Texas: "We're number one in executions and number forty-nine in funding public education. We're behind Mississippi and when you're behind Mississippi, you've got problems."

On his (UNINTELLIGIBLE) opponent, the incumbent governor, "Rick Perry is Gray Davis without the personality."

And of the $100 million spent in the last campaign, "I've always said a fool and his money are soon elected." Go get them Kinky.

HUNT: Bob Novak.

R. NOVAK: Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Voelker has issued his long-awaited interim report on the Iraq Oil-for-Food scandal at the U.N. Hampered by no subpoena power, the Voelker report was months late. It was hardly worth waiting for.

The program's director was accused of a conflict of interest but it was not made clear whether money changed hands. We'll have to see what Voelker says about the culpability of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. You know it is a question of whether Voelker, hired for this job by Annan, was maneuvered into a whitewash.

HUNT: This is Al Hunt saying goodnight for THE CAPITAL GANG.

Coming up next, "CNN PRESENTS: UNDER FIRE" stories from the new Iraq.

And at 9:00 p.m. on "LARRY KING LIVE," Owen LaFave speaks out on the love affair his wife had with her 14-year-old student.

And at 10:00 p.m. "CNN SATURDAY NIGHT" delivers the latest news and the hottest topics.

Thank you for joining us.

(NEWSBREAK)

HUNT: Welcome back to the second half of CAPITAL GANG.

Our "Newsmaker of the Week" is Steve Sabol, President of NFL Films. I've known Steve Sabol since he was a toddler and we played together on our mediocre prep school football team when he was the star but very slow running back. On Friday, I spoke with Steve Sabol. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HUNT: Steve, one of your genius qualities is to cover these big games, not just as a contest but to fashion a narrative. What is the narrative for Super Bowl XXXVIV?

STEVE SABOL, NFL FILMS PRESIDENT: Well, Al, this is the first time in ten years that the two top seeds have met in the Super Bowl and with the Patriots you have a team that's playing for their place in history. The Eagles are playing for their first championship since 1960.

And, if the Weather Channel were reporting on this, they could call this a category 5. This is two gale force powers, the two most dominant teams in the NFL over the last four years, are going to meet and decide the championship of the NFL.

HUNT: Well to stick with the Eagles for a second, as you last know the last time they won a championship was 1960. You and I were just getting out of Haverford School. They've never won a Super Bowl.

SABOL: That's right.

HUNT: Before this year they lost three straight NFC championship games. They are the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL. Is that history irrelevant tomorrow or is it a plus or minus?

SABOL: No, it means nothing to these players. The strength of the Eagles is in their coaching with Andy Reid and to me Andy's strength as a coach is he's very meticulous. He's very orderly and, most of all, he's very, very controlled, very calm. He's like a giant human Tums that can absorb all the acid and controversy and distractions, keep the scene focused and also always sticks to his game plan. He's a -- he is just as good a coach, just as good a planner as Belichick.

HUNT: On that game plan will T.O. play tomorrow and does it matter?

SABOL: The history of the NFL is filled with players who played with broken bones. Jack Youngblood, Dwight White was plagued with 105 temperature in Super Bowl IX, Jerry Rice played the second half of his Super Bowl he couldn't raise his arm above his shoulder. I think T.O. plays. I don't think he's going to be as much of a factor as Brian Westbrook will be.

HUNT: A lot of hoopla over the Eagles' Freddie Mitchell dissing the Patriots. Is that just hype or can one team really get a psychological edge from this kind of volleying?

SABOL: No, I don't think so. I mean there's so much hype down here now, Al, that almost Freddie Mitchell is lost amongst all the parties and the hoopla and everything. That's -- that's for the Sunday gas bags to talk about. That doesn't mean anything.

HUNT: OK. If the Patriots win their third Super Bowl in four years, how would they rank in the pantheon of great teams, the '50s Browns, the Packers of the '60s, the Steelers in the '70s, the 49ers and Gibbs' Redskins? How would you then rate the Patriots?

SABOL: Well, Al, the word dynasty has been used a lot but to me a dynasty is over a long period of time. In my mind, there are four great dynasties in the history of the game, Paul Brown Browns of the 1950s, Lombardi's Packers, Chuck Noll's Steelers and Bill Walsh's 49ers. You look at the 49ers they won five Super Bowls over a period of 20 years and they were always -- they always had ten wins. They were always in the playoffs.

What the Patriots can achieve, three Super Bowls in four years, has only been done by Lombardi, he won five championships in seven years, and by Jimmy Johnson's Cowboys. They are a great team, great achievement. As far as a dynasty we will have to wait for that.

There's always a rush to put a historical context in every Super Bowl. Give them time. What they've achieved right now is truly remarkable.

HUNT: Is Belichick the best coach since Lombardi?

SABOL: Yes, he is -- he's a great coach. I wouldn't compare him to Lombardi. Lombardi always believed that execution was more important than planning. Belichick is the opposite. He believes that planning and game planning and match ups are the most important.

Belichick I would compare to Paul Brown. He's the Paul Brown of his era. Paul Brown believed the secret to successful coaching was to put the right player at the right place at the right time and that's exactly Belichick's philosophy, except Belichick calls that match ups and situational football.

HUNT: OK. Steve, two years ago you correctly predicted the Bucs would defeat the Steelers -- the Raiders rather but the Patriots jinxed you.

SABOL: Yes.

HUNT: In 2002 and last year against Carolina. Let's take a look.

Do the Patriots have any shot?

SABOL: No. I'm going to pick the Panthers winning this game.

HUNT: A chance for redemption. Will Stephen Douglas Sabol go against the Patriots for the third time? Who wins Super Bowl XXXIX?

SABOL: I'm going to go with the Eagles because I think this game can be very close and McNabb is the kind of a quarterback that if it's close in the fourth quarter he can give the Patriots a lot of trouble.

They're very good against system quarterbacks like Peyton Manning but McNabb has that sense of bravado. He's adventurous. He's unpredictable. If it's close in the fourth quarter, I think the Eagles are going to win it.

HUNT: Well, you stuck with your roots, Steve. Thank you so much and we all can't wait to watch the game tomorrow and then NFL Films afterwards. Thanks a lot.

SABOL: OK, Al.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HUNT: Mark, you're a native New Englander. Who's going to win?

SHIELDS: Al, with unmatched stupidity Rush Limbaugh said the only reason Donovan McNabb, the great African American quarterback, is playing for the Eagles is because he was an African American. He was wrong, of course. He's a great quarterback. The Patriots will win on Sunday. I'm sorry for you and Steve Sabol.

HUNT: OK, Bob Novak?

R. NOVAK: Steve Sabol is a great filmmaker, not such a good prognosticator. He's a two-time loser betting against the Patriots. He's going to be a three-time loser Sunday.

HUNT: Margaret, I know you're on the edge of your seat.

CARLSON: Now that I know who's playing, I'm of course for the Eagles because I'm from Pennsylvania.

HUNT: Kate?

O'BEIRNE: My prediction is I'll get all caught up in the game on Sunday and within a matter of days I'll even forget who was playing. Am I the only one?

HUNT: The New England jinx will still, I'm so going to hurt my friend Steve Sabol, the Patriots unfortunately will win but the Eagles will cover the spread.

Coming up THE CAPITAL GANG classic, the axis of evil unveiled three years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Here's your CAPITAL GANG trivia question of the week. Which president, after learning of numerous injuries related to football, proposed a bill to ban the sport? A) Jimmy Carter; B) Herbert Hoover; or C) Theodore Roosevelt. We'll have the answer right after the break.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Before the break we asked which president proposed a bill to ban the sport of football? The answer is C, Theodore Roosevelt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: Welcome back.

Three years ago, President George Bush made this declaration in his State of the Union address.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil arming to threaten the peace of the world. We'll be deliberate yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events while dangers gather.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: THE CAPITAL GANG discussed this on February 2, 2002. Our guest was Democratic Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

R. NOVAK: I have never heard of anything quite like this. This was a surprise to indicate that imminent action, military action, was against these three we used to call them rogue nations. The nexus, the connection, with the events of September 11th is very dim.

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I would love dearly to see all three of those nations governed very differently. The notion that you lump them all together and that you make this kind of a threat and call them an axis, I just think it's very poor public policy.

HUNT: I think the North Korean and the Iranian warnings really was just rhetoric. Iraq is quite a different matter and I think -- I think Bush laid down the marker and I think for better or worse now if Saddam is not gone in two or two and a half years it's going to be -- it's going to hurt Bush politically.

O'BEIRNE: He's now drawing our attention in really a frightening speech I think with legitimate reason to the commonality those three do have, which is that the three of them are on the State Department's list of states that sponsor terrorists and the three of them are also developing weapons of mass destruction.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HUNT: Kate, looking back, did President Bush go too far with his axis of evil speech?

O'BEIRNE: I think what he told us three years ago holds up well, Al. Iran and North Korea command the world's attention because they are dangerous regimes developing the most destructive weapons ever known.

HUNT: Mark. SHIELDS: And, Al, the CIA officially revealed this week, announced that in 1991 Saddam Hussein had not even remotely approached these weapons of mass destruction. But I think what we've seen since is that rolling out the rhetorical artillery is a lot easier than dealing with these nations on a day-by-day basis.

HUNT: Bob, do you feel as negative about it now as you did back then?

R. NOVAK: I'm more negative about it. I think it served no useful purpose. It did not help with the very difficult problems in Iran and North Korea, which I think the president has been very fastidious and prudent in handling but that was just the cheap thrill, a cheap applause line and I'm glad he didn't have anything like that in this year's State of the Union speech.

HUNT: Margaret.

CARLSON: The commonality is between North Korea and Iran because they do have weapons of mass destruction. We knew -- we should have known that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction since that's the country that President Bush chose to go into.

HUNT: Well, I can't help but note that the early returns indicate that the big winner in the Iraqi elections, which we all celebrated on Sunday, are the Iran friendly Shiites, which poses all kinds of questions for the region.

Next on CAPITAL GANG, we'll go "Beyond the Beltway" to discuss the future of the papacy with Michael Novak.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HUNT: Welcome back.

Pope John Paul II took ill this week. That resumed speculation about the future of the papacy and the church. Joining us here in Washington is scholar of religion Michael Novak from the American Enterprise Institute. Michael, it's great to have you here.

MICHAEL NOVAK, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Great to be with you.

HUNT: Thank you for coming.

Michael, any sense of what kind of successor will follow John Paul?

M. NOVAK: Everybody who tries to predict that is always embarrassed by it later. I would say this much. You're not going to find anybody like him. He's been -- he's been an incredible pope, I think one of the greatest since the very beginning and I think the third longest serving since the very beginning. Only Peter himself and then Pius XI in the last century had longer pontificates.

Last time there was a long pontificate, Pius XI, a little over 100 years ago, they decided to take an older man, then 68, which is pretty old, frail, ghostly looking, Leo XIII and he lived until he was 93.

He stayed the pope from 1878 I think to 1903. So, you know, the Holy Spirit outguessed them. The usual rhythm is after a long one they like a short one to take care of the housekeeping but that didn't work.

HUNT: Robert Novak.

R. NOVAK: Yes. Along that line, Michael, is there a kind of a speculation that the next pope, besides being older, will be -- go back to somebody from the Italian bureaucracy rather than a free thinker and somebody who is not tied down by Rome, such as Cardinal Wojtyla was?

M. NOVAK: Well, I don't -- well, I don't think Wojtyla was. I think it was a bit of shock to Rome all around but there's a good chance it won't be an Italian, there's a very -- it will not be an Italian but it could be. There are a couple of really good people there.

One of them is Ruini, who is the vicar, the pope's vicar for actually the city of Rome. He's a terrific, terrific man and kind of a favorite of the pope's. Scola, a younger man in Venice, good scholar like Wojtyla, good English, good you know poise in the world, so it could be an Italian.

But also there's a lot more speculation I think that on an early ballot, if there is an early ballot, it could be Cardinal Ratzinger who is 78. He's admired for his holiness and his poise and his seriousness and, of course, his knowledge of the faith and well spoken.

And, if there is an early favorite, favorite is not the right word, but if there's an early person that everybody respects and might turn to it could be Ratzinger but we don't know, you know. This man is a strong man. He could go on for years yet.

HUNT: Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: Michael, of course, John Paul II is 84 years old and when I read that some cardinals are discussing the need to impose a retirement age of 80 on the pope, first I thought, oh ye of little faith, but I wondered, Michael, do you think that that's a widespread feeling on the part of cardinals and what do you make of it?

M. NOVAK: Well, I think a more interesting problem and a more crucial problem is modern medicine can keep you going so well nowadays that there's not a mechanism for deciding when a pope is not able to function anymore. And, you know, he could come back but you don't know. I think that's a much trickier issue but until now that's just not been a problem. Death just takes people away or did so quickly.

But I want to just make clear that this man, he looks very frail and he can't control his musculature because of the Parkinson's and, you know, he likes to do things with his face. He was an artist, an actor, but now he can't. But inside he's a solid oak. He's a good Polish oak.

HUNT: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Has the crisis in the American church had -- will it have any effect on the cardinals, the sexual abuse scandal here as they go to vote?

M. NOVAK: Well, I think it was sobering. I think the reputation of Americans had been rising in Rome and I think this hurt a bit that the church has not been so well run as people had imagined.

So, that's all I could offer on that. But then it's a warning to the whole church, you know. James Joyce said the Catholic Church is here. Come everybody. You know and we have our share of sinners all the way through, always have in the papacy.

(CROSSTALK)

HUNT: One, that's not is Mark Shields who has a question.

SHIELDS: Thank you. Michael, one reading said that there have been three African popes, one Palestinian, eight Syrians and an Englishman. Now is it likely that the Italian lobby having lost control of the papacy for now approaching a quarter of a century, more than a quarter century excuse me, with Pope John Paul II, I mean is there a likelihood that they'll unify on the balloting?

M. NOVAK: It wouldn't matter. Of approximately 130 cardinals eligible to vote as of now, all those who are at least 80 up until the day of the pope's death can vote. Out of those, only 20-some are Italian, so they're just not a block big enough.

But there is some sentiment around the church that letting somebody do the housekeeping, pay more attention to the needs of Rome as Rome because this pope changed the nature of the papacy.

John Paul II made the papacy a worldwide parish. He went everywhere. He is the human being of all human beings who has been seen physically by more other human beings than anybody in history, you know, five million on one occasion in Manila.

HUNT: Michael, we only have 30 seconds left, but is there a growing divide between the western world church, if you will, not just America but Europe and the third world Catholic Church?

M. NOVAK: I don't think so. I think people are -- have slowly become aware that the Catholic Church is the fastest growing church in the world and it's almost entirely in the third world.

HUNT: Right.

M. NOVAK: So, the third world church vastly outnumbers Europe and America, not in cardinals. They have only 40 percent but they're growing and there's a willingness to have leadership come from there now.

HUNT: Michael Novak, thank you so much for being with us tonight.

THE GANG will be back with our "Outrages of the Week."

THE CAPITAL GANG FACT: Officially, any practicing Roman Catholic male is eligible to be elected pope. However, since the 1300's the pope has always been chosen from among high-ranking clergymen called cardinals.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HUNT: And now for the "Outrages of the Week."

The New York Stock Exchange's confidential report, compiled by outside counsel Dan Webb on former big board chief Dick Grasso's compensation was disclosed this week. The greed and irresponsibility was even worse than imagined.

Gross, the head of a quasi-public institution, not only raked in over $192 million for himself but was lavish with those around him, $130,000 for each of his chauffeurs. It's still unclear whether much of this was done with or without the knowledge of the stock exchange board but someone needs to be accountable.

O'BEIRNE: Former President Jose Maria Aznar of Spain spoke this week in Washington. He said European leaders underestimate the stakes in the war on terrorism and the threat posed by Islamic fundamentalism. He praised the sacrifices of Americans to advance peace and freedom and believes an ungrateful world takes America's indispensable leadership for granted.

Aznar lost the presidency following the terrorist bombings in Madrid when Spanish voters, unlike brave Iraqis, chose to appease their attackers and we lost a courageous, clear-eyed ally.

HUNT: Margaret.

CARLSON: Al, Bush's new prescription drug benefit will now cover Viagra, so as not to discriminate against men. Well, women have been discriminated against for years in that birth control pills are not covered. So, no to the pill which can prevent unwanted pregnancies but, yes, to Viagra which can, well, it's a family show I won't get into it.

The little pink pill was excluded as a "lifestyle not a lifesaving drug." Watch the Cialis ads this weekend during the Super Bowl and decide what those little blue pills are for.

HUNT: Mark, change the subject.

SHIELDS: American politics today is humorless. A book of spontaneous George Bush one liners could be the world's thinnest. So, let's welcome country musician and mystery writer Kinky Friedman now running for governor of Texas. A couple of Friedman gems on his state of Texas: "We're number one in executions and number forty-nine in funding public education. We're behind Mississippi and when you're behind Mississippi, you've got problems."

On his (UNINTELLIGIBLE) opponent, the incumbent governor, "Rick Perry is Gray Davis without the personality."

And of the $100 million spent in the last campaign, "I've always said a fool and his money are soon elected." Go get them Kinky.

HUNT: Bob Novak.

R. NOVAK: Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Voelker has issued his long-awaited interim report on the Iraq Oil-for-Food scandal at the U.N. Hampered by no subpoena power, the Voelker report was months late. It was hardly worth waiting for.

The program's director was accused of a conflict of interest but it was not made clear whether money changed hands. We'll have to see what Voelker says about the culpability of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. You know it is a question of whether Voelker, hired for this job by Annan, was maneuvered into a whitewash.

HUNT: This is Al Hunt saying goodnight for THE CAPITAL GANG.

Coming up next, "CNN PRESENTS: UNDER FIRE" stories from the new Iraq.

And at 9:00 p.m. on "LARRY KING LIVE," Owen LaFave speaks out on the love affair his wife had with her 14-year-old student.

And at 10:00 p.m. "CNN SATURDAY NIGHT" delivers the latest news and the hottest topics.

Thank you for joining us.

(NEWSBREAK)

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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