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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Obama in Iraq: Gone Too Far?; "New York Times" Refuses To Publish John McCain

Aired July 21, 2008 - 21:00   ET

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


GLENN BECK, GUEST HOST: Tonight, the man who calls children with autism idiots and morons is here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL SAVAGE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BECK: Talk radio host Michael Savage isn't apologizing to anybody.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are totally outraged.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He would simply refer to our children as putzes and morons and idiots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It goes beyond distasteful. It's actually harmful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A person in the media should be responsible for what they say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: WOR should fire him immediately.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BECK: Protesters calling for him to be fired.

But first, Barack Obama's road trip to Iraq -- is the candidate campaigning in Iraq?

Is he going too far?

And John McCain's struggle for media coverage stateside hits a snag. "The New York Times" has rejected a column he wrote.

It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Well, hello, America.

Welcome to LARRY KING LIVE.

My name is Glenn Beck.

Larry is on a well-deserved vacation tonight.

I'm sitting in for him tonight. Joy Behar is going to be here tomorrow.

I just want you to know up front, I'm a conservative. That's where I come from. I'm going to do my best to sit into this very big chair and to try to be as fair as possible. But I just want you to know my bias going in.

We're going to get into the Michael Savage comments about autistic children in just a bit.

But we want to start with Senator Barack Obama. He is continuing his first leg of the high stakes, headline grabbing international tour that is going to take him from Baghdad to Berlin. The presumptive Democratic nominee has met with the prime minister and all of the dignitaries and also many of our U.S. military men and women.

Let's get some ideas of how people think it's going.

Let's start with -- let me introduce the guests.

Peter Beinart. He's a senior fellow, the Council On Foreign Relations, a best-selling author,

"The Good Fight: Why Liberals and Only Liberals Can Win the War on Terror."

David Frum is a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He writes: A daily column for "The National Review" online.

And from Boston is David Gergen. He's a CNN senior political analyst. He's a professor of public service at Harvard JFK's School of Government, editor-at-large "U.S. News & World Report". He has served at the White House under -- I mean everybody, I think, since Truman.

Welcome to the program.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: McKinley.

(LAUGHTER)

BECK: McKinley.

Let me start with you, Peter.

You wrote an opinion piece back -- when was this -- in June in "Time" magazine. And you said that Obama should not go to Iraq.

Why not?

And is it a good thing he's there now? PETER BEINART, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": I don't, because I don't think you learn a lot on these kind of trips. I mean, your movements are extremely restricted. Who you can talk to is extremely restricted. By definition, you have to go to places that are secure and safe. You can't go to places that aren't. You can't talk to people who want to kill Americans.

I think that a lot of the people who went to Vietnam during the Vietnam War, in fact, came back knowing less than they did when they left and that the best thing for a leader is to talk to a lot of people who have moved freely around in a country.

But that said, I don't think the trip is doing Obama any political damage at all.

BECK: OK.

So you think he should be there or not?

BEINART: No. I would have advised him, if he had asked my opinion, not to go. I think this kind of thing is really, really overrated. When you are a president -- a politician like him, I think you walk around in a bubble. You're better off just talking to people -- diplomats, journalist -- who have spent years and years in a country.

BECK: David Gergen, let me go to you.

"Time" magazine did a piece on why is Obama getting this publicity and is it balanced at all?

And they talked a little bit about how it is that Obama is interesting and McCain is not.

Do you think that's fair?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT," ADVISED NIXON, FORD, REAGAN, CLINTON: Absolutely. I do think the coverage has been unbalanced. "The Tyndall Report," which measures these things, he finds that the network news programs have devoted far more time to Obama than they have to McCain.

BECK: No, no, no...

GERGEN: I think that's part...

BECK: But...

GERGEN: There is...

BECK: But the question is...

GERGEN: But the question is...

BECK: The question is... GERGEN: Are they, you know, are they doing...

BECK: ...is it OK because he's more interesting than McCain?

Are we running "U.S." weekly?

GERGEN: No. I think there are two things here. The news networks, and I think including CNN, are concerned about this lack of balance because they realize that they're devoting more time to Obama than to McCain. I think it's partly because Obama's a fresh voice and there is something exciting about him.

But frankly, it's also because the McCain campaign hasn't had much sizzle. There isn't -- there isn't a lot to cover. And, you know, that's up to the campaign. That's not up to the networks to manufacture.

But I do also want to disagree with my friend Peter Beinart on -- I think Obama is doing absolutely the right thing by making this trip. Yes, these are a little bit of show and tell kind of qualities. I think he's right about that. But I think it's very important for these candidates -- this is unprecedented for a presidential candidate to go like this.

I think in the future, every presidential candidate will go and make this kind of trip because it's important to send a signal that you're trying to listen, that you intend to govern in a way that's not just your view, an ethno-centric, American-based view, but that you want to take other perspectives into account.

And I hope and I think he will agree with that.

BECK: David -- David Frum, John McCain, no sizzle to him.

DAVID FRUM, FELLOW, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Well...

BECK: I mean Mr. Gergen here -- we've got two presidential candidates going into two different war zones. One gets all three anchors to cover it and the other one is lucky if they get a report from a cell phone.

FRUM: The suggestion that John McCain is somehow intrinsically less interesting is pretty funny when you think about it. Here is the oldest man ever to run for the president of the United States. He was down and out not eight months ago. Through getting up earlier and campaigning more, he beat a whole field of incredibly distinguished candidates, including my candidate, Rudy Giuliani, by outworking him, outtalking him, out persuading him.

It is the most unbelievable come from behind story. He is a charming person. And meanwhile, he is running against a man who, despite the history-making nature of his campaign, is personally, when you listen to what he has to say, actually rather a blow-hard and kind of a boring person.

And I don't -- the idea John McCain is intrinsically less interesting strikes me as uncompelling.

BECK: Well...

FRUM: Now, the networks always have favorites. And I will say, as somebody who was there in 2000, that in 2000, the press favored Bush over Gore. I'll admit that. But this time they are making up for it in spades.

BECK: Peter, I have never seen -- I've never anything like it. For one, here we have Barack Obama -- a guy who was dead wrong on the surge, said that violence would not be reduced. He said if we did the surge, it would actually increase. In 2004, everybody was saying that you couldn't vote for a man who wouldn't at least admit his mistakes. And I'm a conservative. I think Bush bungled this war for two years. It was a nightmare. And I was at least honest enough to say Bush, you've got to recognize your mistake and maybe it was a mistake for me to vote for you if you can't recognize your mistake.

Should Barack Obama acknowledge his mistake?

And shouldn't the media hold his feet to the fire and say you made a colossal misjudgment on the surge?

BEINART: Well, Glenn, I think it's great that you're coming out and saying you were wrong to support the Iraq War. I actually (INAUDIBLE)...

BECK: No, but let's not play any games.

BEINART: No, I actually...

(LAUGHTER)

BEINART: I also supported...

(CROSSTALK)

BEINART: I also supported the Iraq War and have said that I think I was wrong.

But if you look at what Obama has actually been saying on the ground even today in Iraq, he's not -- he's acknowledging very forthrightly that things are going significantly better.

BECK: No. That's not the same. That's not the same. I've got to hold your feet to the fire exactly the way the liberals held George Bush's feet to the fire. It's not the same.

What I'm asking is the man made a colossal error in judgment -- something he seems a little prone to -- a giant error in judgment.

Doesn't he have to say, on the surge, I was wrong?

BEINART: No. I actually don't think so. But I think it's too early to say. I think there's no question that at this point he...

(CROSSTALK)

BEINART: If you'd let me finish.

I think right now there's no question the surge has gone dramatically better than many people expected. But there's a very good argument that a lot of reasons behind that don't have a lot to do with our increased troop presence and they could change quite quickly if there's a change.

BECK: So it wasn't the troops?

BEINART: I think it's not...

BECK: Because Obama has said it is the...

BEINART: ...primarily the troops. I think it's primarily the switch among the Sunni in the Sunni heartland about their interests.

BECK: OK. Well, then, you disagree with Barack Obama, because he says it's the hard work and the heroism of the troops.

BEINART: Perhaps I do.

BECK: He also said a year ago that it was -- that it was not going to decrease, but it would increase the violence. So he is obviously speaking out of both sides of his mouth on this issue.

All right.

Does anybody really care that Obama is overseas?

It's not like there aren't a bunch of problems on the home front, right?

That's ahead on LARRY KING LIVE.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE: When I said we needed more troops in Iraq and everybody -- the pundits said my campaign was dead. And I said at that time, I would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war. And I meant it then and I mean it today. I mean that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BECK: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.

My name is Glenn Beck, filling in for Mr. King tonight.

I'll have you know, I'm an opinion guy. I'll try to keep it as -- I'll try to keep the pie hole shut as much as possible. And it isn't easy for me.

I want to bring you back to our guests.

We have Peter Beinart from the Council On Foreign Relations, a senior fellow there, best-selling author of "The Good Fight: Why Liberals and Only Liberals Can Win the War on Terror."

David Frum, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

And David Gergen is here, CNN senior political analyst.

Let me pick it up with you, David Frum.

There was an op-ed piece in "The Washington Times" from Lanny Davis who I, I've got to tell you, back in the '90s, I didn't like Lanny Davis because I thought he was, you know, the typical, you know, just say whatever you have to for your guy.

I now listen to Lanny Davis with a new ear because while I still disagree with him, he is willing to say my side is right on this one my side is wrong.

I don't know if you saw the op-ed piece, but he said he was wrong about the surge -- "We were wrong. These are facts and not arguments," to question quote from his article.

When will we find more politicians like Lanny Davis -- I can't believe I'm saying that -- that will say hey, that's just the way it is?

FRUM: About 1:00 after inauguration day in 2009.

(LAUGHTER)

FRUM: And at the speed at which Barack Obama is rediscovering -- you know, it wasn't that long ago when the core supporters of Barack Obama were traducing (ph) General Petraeus -- accusing him of treason, in effect, with big newspaper ads. And today there's a picture of General Petraeus, probably the most successful American soldier in the past decade, with Barack Obama.

And I think you're going to see Barack Obama trying to pierce through this problem he has that Lanny Davis and other Hillary Clinton supporters pointed out...

BECK: OK...

FRUM: ...of the question of whether he can be commander-in-chief or not.

BECK: Well, let me -- Peter, let me go to you. I'll give you the opportunity to answer the question that I don't think David just did.

When are we going to find a politician -- because the same thing could be said about John McCain on taxes and the Bush tax cuts. Now he's flipped and everything else.

When are we just going to find somebody who is that different politician?

BEINART: I think it would be great if politicians kind of said very forthrightly when they were wrong. They generally don't because the press kills them when they do.

I mean John Edwards...

BECK: But who cares about -- honestly, who cares about the press?

The American people are screaming out for change. And they're not getting it from either candidate.

BEINART: Well, remember, what was the chief Republican attack against both John Kerry and Al Gore?

That they were flip-floppers. That they were people who kept changing their minds.

(CROSSTALK)

BEINART: So I think that that -- look, I agree with you. I agree with you. I think it would be great if politicians came out and said I was wrong.

I mean, John Edwards, on the Iraq War, very bluntly said I was wrong for -- I was wrong for supporting it. And I think it would be fine if Democrats came out and said, look, the surge is going a lot better than we expected at this point.

But you can understand why they don't do that, because the press is the filter between them and the public. And in the press, they'd get kicked in the teeth.

BECK: David, do you think that there is a -- David Gergen -- do you think that there is a difference happening now in America?

I sense it. I travel the country an awful lot. Just at a stage show, I met about 75,000 people here in the last month-and-a-half. And I can feel a difference in this country. They are not about the Republican and Democrat. They're about right and wrong. And they're tired of the games in Washington.

When will the politicians in Washington get this message -- or will they?

GERGEN: Well, they -- I think they've been tired of this for a long, long time. And there have been moments when a John McCain made his name and was a beloved figure because he seemed to be the maverick who was speaking the truth and speaking out a few years ago.

But he also got clipped. He got really, you know, banged by his own party for doing that back in 2000 and, you know, had to go to (INAUDIBLE) Beinart points.

But I want to come back to this one -- a couple of things. One to David Frum and the media coverage. Listen, on the conventions, John McCain, at this point, is planning to give his acceptance speech in a standard conventional hall. Barack Obama is planning to give an acceptance speech before 75,000 people in an open stadium.

Do you think those are equally interesting as stories?

Do you really believe that?

And...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

GERGEN: But isn't there something about the staging of that and the throngs that are going to be out there?

Isn't that what Obama has been very good at?

Yes, I think you can disagree about his substance. I have no problem with that at all. I think on many, many issues he's been way too vague. I don't think his numbers add up well enough. I think he needs, you know, stronger economic -- he needs more economic advisers like Mr. Furman, who's in there. All those things are true.

But, nonetheless, I don't think that as a matter of sort of giving some sizzle to the campaign, you have to say that as a general proposition, I think that Obama's been more interesting in the last few months. And on Glenn...

BECK: David Frum, I'm...

GERGEN: Yes, go ahead.

BECK: Yes. I just want to say to you, David...

GERGEN: Please.

BECK: I mean I've got to tell you, the one thing I care about in the world right now is gas prices and oil and everything else. I heard John McCain speak. I think it was on "Good Morning America" like a week ago. I think it was stuff I wanted to hear and I could barely listen to it. It was just like oh, jeez, John, please, help me out a little bit. He is not an effective speaker. Will you...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

FRUM: But, you know, a minute ago you were saying that the American people are tired of games and they want straight talk. But what they also want to hear is that gas prices are coming down next Tuesday.

And so when John McCain tries honestly to tell them that the gasoline prices are not coming down next Tuesday, people say well, that's talk -- that's not the straight talk answer we wanted to hear. What we wanted to hear was actually a different kind of straight talk answer, that happens not to be the case.

If you -- at the -- what John McCain has to say about energy was that we -- there are things the government can do now that may have an impact on the futures market and thus may remove some of the speculative aspect of this price of oil. But it's a difficult problem.

And he is, in fact, being more straightforward and more candid than Barack Obama. And that is, you know, that's maybe why there aren't 75,000 people coming out to hear him, because some of these truths are kind of hard. But I think he's earned the right to say them.

And with respect to David, I mean, yes, it's true the Barack Obama effect -- the Barack Obama crowds, those are dramatic stories and they say something interesting and important about the country. But the man himself, what he has to say, compared to what John McCain has had to say, and compared to the extraordinary comeback of the McCain candidacy...

BECK: OK...

FRUM: That's a pretty interesting story.

BECK: Gentlemen, "The New York Times" is up next. They have rejected John McCain.

What he wrote is causing some trouble for the candidate, apparently.

We'll get into that when LARRY KING LIVE returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BECK: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.

Filling in for Mr. King, my name is Glenn Beck.

We want to introduce a couple new people to you.

Ben Stein is a commentator, economist, attorney, actor, TV personality, a just generally good guy. He's got a new book out, "How To Ruin the United States of America." He also supports McCain. He is also the host of a movie called "Expelled."

Jamal Simmons is an adviser to the Democratic National Committee who supports Obama.

And David Gergen is returning with us again.

Ben, let me start with you.

"The New York Times" has decided not publish an op-ed submitted by John McCain in response to the op-ed on Iraq by Barack Obama. It was published last week. This time, the newspaper issued a statement. And it says, if I may quote: "It is standard procedure on our op-ed page, and that of other newspapers, to go back and forth with an author on his or her submission. We look forward to publishing Senator McCain's views in our paper, just as we have in the past. We have published at least seven op-ed pieces by Senator McCain since 1996. 'The New York Times' endorsed Senator McCain as the Republican candidate in the presidential primaries. We take his views very seriously."

Do you buy any of that, Ben?

BEN STEIN, COMMENTATOR, ECONOMIST, ACTOR: Well, I can tell you this, as a person who's been a columnist for a number of years for "The New York Times," they're very, very strict and often extremely maddening in their requirements and requests of columnists. So I do take it seriously.

I mean I gather what Senator McCain said was a little vague.

I'm positive that if he works with them, they will run what he has to say.

But can I go back to something you said a moment ago in your previous group?

You know, why is the media so in love with Barack Obama?

This is something that goes beyond anything I've ever seen. A friend of mine said, oh, they love him because he's African-American, he's the affirmative action candidate. That's not true. The media ripped Jesse Jackson to pieces. They don't even pay any attention to Alan Keyes.

Something is going on here that transcends race, that transcends the historical uniqueness. It's like a mad junior high school crush between the media and Obama. It's like a junior high school crush for the first time someone's ever been in love.

BECK: Jamal, don't you think that it is the media elites and the extreme left?

They're in love with him. We've never had a candidate this far left.

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No, I don't think so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: McGovern was this far left.

SIMMONS: I don't think so. (INAUDIBLE) Barack Obama is a pretty mainstream candidate. And I've written for "The New York Times" and I've seen -- I've seen how "The New York Times" is pretty tough on you as a writer when I've had my op-ed published there. So I think, you know, they're being pretty straight with him -- with McCain.

BECK: OK. No, no...

SIMMONS: But the real issue here.

BECK: That wasn't the question. SIMMONS: The real issue here...

BECK: That was...

SIMMONS: That was the question you asked Ben.

BECK: That was not the question.

(CROSSTALK)

BECK: I know. The question to you is about -- about...

SIMMONS: I thought you were trying to be a straight host tonight.

BECK: I can't do it. I can't...

SIMMONS: You can't do it, can you, Glenn?

BECK: I tried to (INAUDIBLE). I can't.

No, I mean, but the question is, is that Barack Obama is the most liberal Senator in Congress. There's no question that he is from the left.

Why do people run from that?

SIMMONS: Well, actually, there is a question that he is the most liberal Senator in the Congress.

BECK: There is?

SIMMONS: And there is. I mean you...

BECK: Look at the record.

SIMMONS: I mean just because you declare it, doesn't make it so. You're not Jeb Bush. This isn't Florida.

And so I think you've got to -- I think you've got to take a look at Barack Obama's entire record and you've got say that, listen...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're right.

SIMMONS: ...this is a guy who was...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're right.

SIMMONS: ...who was for -- not for going into the war in Iraq because he knew it was wrong. He's got the judgment. This is a guy who said that we needed more troops in Afghanistan. Now everyone else is saying that we need more troops in Afghanistan. He said he was for a time line. Now Mr. Maliki and President Bush and everyone else is talking about timelines or time horizons or whatever else it is.

So he's been a leader out here in the mainstream of where Americans are. If you look at the American public, 60 percent of the people agree that it's time for us to get out of Iraq and come on home.

BECK: OK. Let me go to David Gergen.

I want to play an ad that John McCain was running and ask you if you think this is fair at all.

Here's the ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM JOHN MCCAIN FOR PRESIDENT CAMPAIGN AD)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gas prices $4, $5 -- no end in sight, because some in Washington are still saying no to drilling in America, no to independence from foreign oil.

Who can you thank for rising prices at the pump?

UNIDENTIFIED SUPPORTERS: Obama! Obama!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BECK: I mean that -- that's not fair at all. John McCain is just as responsible for high gas prices in -- at the pump as Barack Obama is right now. Neither of them wanted to drill for oil. They both had the same policy.

That's not fair, is it?

GERGEN: No. I thought that ad was fine until it got to that line about who can you blame. And then you show Obama. And what we didn't hear there was the cheering in the background -- "Obama! Obama! Obama!"

BECK: Right.

GERGEN: You know, so I thought that line -- I thought that ad went way over the line.

But I want to tell you, it's good to see Ben Stein back on the air so much. He offers trenchant observations.

(LAUGHTER)

GERGEN: But I -- and I think it's worth recalling...

BECK: And you're a handsome man.

GERGEN: No. He does. And I just...

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: You know, and...

SIMMONS: (INAUDIBLE) Ben Stein on Monday?

GERGEN: Yes. You can say oh, absolutely.

But I want to tell you, you know, it wasn't so long ago that I remember a lot of people thought why in the world is this media in love with John McCain?

You know, John -- the media was supposed to be his political base. You know, tell the media -- the media -- I think the media has -- is -- has something of a crush right now on Obama. But I think it comes and goes and I think they're going to be -- you know, I think they're struggling right now on how to get into a more balanced coverage.

And that's why I think the McCain campaign has to provide something more themselves. They have to -- you know, we learned from the master, Ronald Reagan, that if you want to get media attention, you have to do it in ways that are dramatically interesting. He had a lot to say and he also did it in a dramatic way.

BECK: Ben Stein?

STEIN: Well, I mean there's no -- there's just no two ways about it, McCain is an amazing human being. He's a great -- a genuinely great man. He's a pitiful campaigner. He's like the grandfather that -- your parents want you to have over to dinner and you say no, we know he's a war hero, but do we have to have dinner with him again?

Whereas Obama is an incredibly good speaker. Every word he says is hackneyed left-wing platitude, but he's an incredibly good speaker.

I mean McCain is just a very dismal campaigner. He's a great guy...

BECK: So can you win...

STEIN: ...but he's a dismal campaigner.

BECK: Can you win like that, Ben Stein, in today's America?

STEIN: If somebody has...

BECK: Could Abraham Lincoln win?

STEIN: Oh, yes. If somebody can rev him up and get him started, yes.

BECK: Not the (INAUDIBLE)...

STEIN: But I mean he's just not a crotchety old guy.

BECK: Not the question.

STEIN: And an old folks home look about...

BECK: Thomas Jefferson was a horrible public speaker. Abraham Lincoln, horrible public speaker.

Could they win in America today?

GERGEN: What are you talking about?

What are you talking about?

STEIN: I don't think that's true.

GERGEN: I mean come on...

STEIN: I don't think that's true. I think he was a great public speaker. He did that Lincoln-Douglas debates...

GERGEN: He was absolutely compelling.

STEIN: He was kind of a great speaker. He was a kind of a great speaker.

But I don't...

BECK: Thomas Jefferson?

STEIN: I don't know, McCain's got a -- no, but Lincoln.

I think he's got to do something quite dramatically better. And he's really got to change himself a lot.

BECK: All right...

STEIN: And it can be done. Mrs. Clinton did it. It can be done.

BECK: Hang on. We'll be right back. We're going to take a quick break here on LARRY KING LIVE.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BECK: Welcome back. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. My name is Glenn Beck. I'm in for Larry tonight, who is on a well deserved vacation. I appreciate Mr King allowing me to sit in his chair. Joy Behar will be here tomorrow, sitting in for Larry.

Back for our political discussion. Jamal, I have to come back to you; 23 percent now say that climate is more important than the price of gasoline, only 23 percent. Can the green movement survive five dollars a gallon gasoline?

SIMMONS: The question is can the United States economy survive the a steadily increasing cost of gas. I want go back to that last question.

BECK: Can somebody answer -- nobody wants to answer my question.

SIMMONS: This is exactly on your point, why is it that McCain isn't getting the same attention as Barack Obama? Because I think the American people recognize this is an extraordinarily historic moment, and they have one candidate who is offering the same tired policies they have had for the last eight years, John McCain. They have another candidate who is trying to take them some place completely different.

STEIN: To Anwar.

SIMMONS: And one of those questions is about whether or not we're going to actually spend 150 billion dollars investing in renewable fuels and energies, which is what Barack Obama wants to do, and whether or not we are going to give an energy rebate to people, which is what Barack Obama wants to do, or we're going to try to just drill our way out of the problems, which even T. Boone Pickens, with those ads running every day, has said we can't drill our way out of this problem. And as Al Gore asked the other day, does anybody think we will bring gas prices down by helping oil companies make more men.

BECK: Ben Stein, didn't the president by saying drill, drill, drill bring the price of oil down 13 dollars last week? We did it with Syn-fuels in the 1980s. If you get serious, you will bring it down?

STEIN: I think that will bring it down in the long run. I don't think the announcement about drilling off shore brought it down. It was brought up by speculators going crazy. I think the speculators are running for cover now, because they think the FCC is looking at them and wondering if there's some illegal price fixing going on. I don't think there is. But the speculators did.

This wasn't done by market forces. This was done by speculators, over seas, in dark polls and all kind of nefarious ways. I don't know if it is illegal, but it ain't nice. There's something wacky going on here. The person offering us the same tired politics is Obama. If you have to give subsidies for all these natural gas, wind power and so forth, it's not going to last unless the government pours money down that rat hole forever.

Look, we have tried subsidies for decades here in California for wind power. It's one percent of the power. We have been subsidizing it like mad for decades. Oil is it for a long time.

SIMMONS: Ben, is that what you call the NASA program? Was that a subsidy to space flight?

STEIN: Of course it was a subsidy.

SIMMONS: As a country, we set a goal and we said this is a priority for us. And the government is in the business of making that priority --

STEIN: Sending a man to the moon was entirely a prestige gambit, a race with the Soviet Union.

SIMMONS: It hasn't benefited us at all?

STEIN: I team talking, sir. I never interrupted you once. These wacky alternative fuels are just a pipe dream unless somebody is going to subsidize them. If the American people want to subsidize them -- yes, we can survive five dollar oil. Japan has 10 dollar oil. Germany has 11 dollar oil and they're very prosperous countries. The real question is energy security. Why should we be dependent on Saudi Arabia when we have it right here in our own country.

BECK: David Gergen, let me go to you. I have to tell you, I feel like the average viewer when I watch these two go at it. My head will explode. There's a difference between can't drill our way out of a problem and won't drill our way out of a problem. Americans believe that oil is in our near future and not too distant future, and new technology is in the long run. We have to do all of these things. And yet nobody really wants to talk about it. Everybody wants to position themselves. Nobody really wants to cut things through. Maybe it's time for a third party in this country.

GERGEN: You and I have finally reached a point of agreement about doing all these things on energy. There's a real danger. I think Ben is right. Of course we can survive 10 dollar oil, as other countries have. But it makes it a lot harder to get the public to go along with some of the tough things that need to be done on energy when the price gets this high.

I do think John McCain represents a break from the George Bush past, in contrast to Jamal. He is talking -- he takes climate change very seriously. He is moving not only on the drilling question but he's also pushing on nuclear power, which Barack Obama frankly will not confront and take into account seriously enough. John McCain Is also saying we need to do something to cut down carbon emissions. He's far ahead, in a far different position from George W. Bush in saying I want the position that Joe Lieberman has staked out, and some Republicans are staking out in a lonely way, to somehow cut carbon emissions, under programs. It's a very complex program called cap and trade.

I also think that Ben Stein is right. We don't want to spend a lot of money picking winners and losers. But I do think we need to spend some money and we should not be dismissive of the capacity of government to bring change. It's not just that the space program, if you'll recall, Ben -- you know this as well as I do -- that the Internet is here today not because of Al Gore, but to a very considerable extent because the Defense Department spent money trying to develop a communication system under something called DARPA, and it led to the creation of the Internet.

There are times when government, as it does through the NIA, through the National Institutes of Health, or the NSF, the National Science Foundation, makes basic investments, as it should in alternative energy, that would be helpful. I think Ben would support that. I think he's right though. We don't want to pick winners and losers at the end.

SIMMONS: I hate to disagree with David because he's a professor at my school. Here's the point I'll say, John McCain is not running on those things. He's running on gas price holiday and he's running on drilling. Those are the two points that --

(CROSS TALK)

SIMMONS: Even if you drill, it will be 10 years before we get to the well. BECK: Gentlemen, I have to run. Jamal, not a McCain supporter at all, but he is running on much more than that when it comes to energy. We'll switch topics here and go to Michael Savage. Why did he call autistic children idiots and other things? That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BECK: We go to Michael Savage, who is with us. He said some pretty controversial thing. I want to play them for you. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL SAVAGE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Now you want me to tell you my opinion on autism, since I'm not talking about autism? A fraud, a racket. For a long while, we were hearing that every minority child had asthma. Why was there an asthma epidemic amongst minority children? I'll tell you why; the children got extra welfare if they were disabled and they got extra help in school. It was a money racket.

Everyone went in and was told, when the nurse looks at you, you go -- I don't know, the dust got me. Everybody had asthma from the minority community. That was number one.

Now the illness du jour is autism. You know what autism is? I'll tell you what autism is in 99 percent of the cases. It's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That' what autism is.

What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot. Autism, everybody has an illness. If I behave like a fool, my father called me a fool. He said to me, don't behave like a fool. The worse thing he said, don't behave like a fool. Don't be anybody's dummy. Don't sound like an idiot.

Don't act like a girl. Don't cry. That's what I was raised with. That's what you should raise your children with. Stop with the sensitivity training. You're turning your son into a girl. You're turning a nation into a nation of losers and beaten men. That's why we have the politicians we have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BECK: But, Michael, what did you really mean?

SAVAGE: Ah-ha, very funny.

BECK: Michael Savage, I'm a guy who has been taken out of context all the time. We wanted to make sure we played a full cut. It seems pretty clear you don't really believe autism exists?

SAVAGE: No, no, no, no. Again, you took what they gave you but you didn't take the entire preceding material. Preceding this, Glenn, was a discussion of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has had the nerve to say that children as young as two years of age should be given anti-cholesterol drugs.

BECK: Right.

SAVAGE: There's been not one study about the damage this would do or potentially do to two year-olds, and yet you have had doctors come out and say these drugs should be given to the children. This was in the broader context of the over-medicalization, the over- diagnose of disease, using our children as profit centers. I've spent all day saying what a shame it is that I, as man who has spent his entire life defending the defenseless, mainly children, should have to defend myself from charges leveled at me by men who specialize in hating families and children, namely Media Matters who probably come after you as well, by ripping me out of contest and making me look like the monster that they are.

BECK: Michael, let me ask you this, I am a guy who has been taken out of context. I am a guy who has been called a monster and everything else. I understand context. Talk radio is extremely difficult to do in sound bites because it is a three-hour running monologue, especially with somebody like you. But when you say 99 percent of the cases are brats who should be told to cut the act out and not act like morons, as a dad with a child with special needs, boy that cuts right.

SAVAGE: I understand what you're saying. If you heard the entire show, you would have heard me addressing those comments to the misdiagnosed, false diagnosed and outright racketeers, as opposed to the general category of autistic children. Glen, let me say this again, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that all children be screened for ALD, that's autism, at the 18 to 24 month level.

In England, the UK National Screening Committee recommends against screening for autism in this young general population. Why? Because screening tools haven't been fully validated and treatments and intervention lack sufficient evidence for effectiveness, meaning there is no definitive diagnose, no biomedical diagnose, no blood test, no MRI's which will prove definitively that a child has autism. It's become such a gigantic category that overly bright children are being put into this category.

why is this happening? How could there be an epidemic that's come out of nowhere, where one out of 150 children suddenly have an illness that hardly existed 20 years ago. You have to use common sense here.

BECK: Michael, tell me what you think a parent should do. I don't believe any parent goes in and wants to medicate their child. I know people who have been diagnosed with ADD. And I agree with you, a lot of things have been over-diagnosed. Immediately, in school, they talk about medicating your kid.

On the other hand, I have found people who don't have children, I include myself before I had four children, they're the first ones to walk in a grocery store and see a kid spread eagle in front of the cocoa puffs where they're screaming, and say, that parent is out of control. They don't know what they're doing. My kid will never do that. And then your kid is spread eagle in the supermarket and you're thinking, I don't know how to control my kid. What do parents do if they have a child that is, they believe, autistic?

SAVAGE: First of all, truly autistic children need treatment and help. And they should get all of the money and services that are available. My comments are directed at the falsely diagnosed, misdiagnosed or outright fraudulently diagnosed children who are basically using money they shouldn't be getting. Glen, how often have you seen people pull into handicap zones with blue placards, who get out of their car and look well. The minute they see you looking at them askance, they pull out a cane and start hobbling. Those are the people I'm addressing here. I know there is little time to cover. I say let the truly autistic be treated. Let the falsely diagnosed be treated.

Do you know that right now they have broadened the definition of autism to such a thing as called the autistic spectrum. What does that mean? What is the autistic spectrum? Kids with a very high IQ or simply late in talking could fall into that category? Should we take people who where glasses and put them into the blindness spectrum? Should we take people with moles on their face and put them into a category called the cancer spectrum and treat them as such?

What I am saying is many parents, unfortunately, have been urged to let their children be labeled autistic. Why? To get money for speech therapy or other conditions from grants that are available to deal with autism. These are the problems, Glen.

BECK: OK, Michael Savage has said he wants to boldly awaken parents and children to the medical community's attempt to label too many children as adults or as autistic. We have a couple of doctors who understand autism. They'll be here next. Could there be something to Michael Savage's remarks or not? We'll find out when LARRY KING LIVE returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BECK: We were talking to Michael Savage here just a few minutes ago. And I want to bring in a couple of doctors. Dr. Max Wiznitzer he is the associate professor of pediatric neurology, Case Western Reserve University pediatric neurologist, also Dr. Jay Gordon, the associate professor of pediatrics at UCLA Medical Center. He also has a recently released DVD out called "Vaccinations, Assessing the Risks."

Let me start with Dr. Wiznitzer. You heard Michael Savage's comments here. Is there gross over-diagnosing of autism in children?

DR. MAX WIZNITZER, PEDIATRIC NEUROLOGIST: In this situation, you really have to split it into two pieces. One is are we identifying kids with developmental issues, including autism, in a timely fashion. And probably of the answer is no, which is why there's initiatives through the CDC and other government agencies to try to get this done.

Number two is once children have the diagnosis of autism, does it actually stick over time? And studies that have been done tell us that anywhere between five percent and even 50 percent of that population may later be found to have something else. So I wouldn't use the word gross, but is there over-diagnosis? At times, yes.

BECK: Dr. Gordon, you disagree.

DR. JAY GORDON, PEDIATRICIAN: I disagree very strongly. I think you put Mr. Savage's comments in context, not out of context. In my 30 years of taking care of children, I haven't seen an over-diagnosis of autism and delays, I've seen an under-diagnosis. Because of what he said without any facts to support him, some children will be hurt. As the doctor just said, we need to be aware. We need to diagnose children early and help them. There are children on the autism spectrum who will have trouble in academic settings and in social settings. And the earlier that we identify these children, we can get them the help that we need.

There are going to be people who are uninformed enough to believe Mr. Savage and children will be hurt by his comments.

BECK: Dr. Wiznitzer, I am a guy who is riddled with ADD. I never was diagnosed with it. I struggled with it my whole life. I thought I was just a freak, which I am by the way. And yet I'm not sure when I tried medication -- in fact I am sure -- I would never give it to my children because it's very difficult for you to assess yourself, especially if you're eight.

WIZNITZER: Well, are you talking about medicine in general?

BECK: Yes.

WIZNITZER: Or autism?

BECK: I'm talking about medicine in general. If you diagnose with whatever the case may be, autism or ADD, you give medication to your children, isn't there also --

WIZNITZER: Let me correct that. Diagnosis of autism, many of the children don't get medicine. The purpose of that diagnosis is not because you want to put them on medicine, but because you want to get them into the appropriate intervention programs. Medicine in autism doesn't fix or cure autism. What it does is it treats some of the conditions, such as anxiety, behavioral inflexibility, issues of that type.

BECK: Wait, wait, hang on just a second. I have to take a break. I want to pick it up right there when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BECK: Let me go back to Dr. Max Wiznitzer and Dr. Jay Gordon. We were talking about medication and Max, you said it only -- the medication only treats some of the symptoms of autism, doesn't treat itself.

WIZNITZER: Let me -- it's not the symptoms of autism. It's some of the complicating things that go along with autism.

BECK: Right. But doesn't that kind of -- don't you run a problem in maybe stripping some essential things out of a personality by medicating?

WIZNITZER: No. But remember we're talking about conditions that have an adverse effect on the child's ability to function on a day-to- day basis. We're not talking about getting rid of personality.

BECK: Dr. Gordon?

GORDON: You're correct, medications are used too often in children. Mr. Savage tried to change the suspect to cholesterol and handicap placards. The idea of medicating children with autism should fall far second to the idea of diagnosing them early. Of course, he aimed a lot of his venom at the minority community, accusing them of faking it. In fact, there are children who have lesser access to medical care who need even more help. We need to help doctors diagnose autism early, not late.

BECK: Gentlemen, thank you both very much. I appreciate it. By the way, my apologies to Mr. Larry king for the mess I've made of his house today. I appreciate him allowing me to sit in. Go to CNN.com/LarryKing for transcripts, ring tones and podcasts. You can check out the guest list as well. Tomorrow, Joy Behar will be here as Larry continues his vacation. I mean, he needs it I think. He deserves it. Among those joining Joy are Ben Stein and Fran Drescher. That's LARRY KING LIVE Tuesday.

Time now for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?