MEDIA
06/06/2010 08:59 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Hello and good morrow and welcome to this week's edition of your Sunday morning liveblog of what poet laureate Ke$ha called "Blah Blah Blah," only about politics. Last week was the holiday weekend, but I've got to tell you, it's today that's feeling more like the holiday because there is no MEET THE PRESS today! That's right! It's the French Open, today: that annual NBC tradition where clay court specialists descend on Paris, France to spare us a single day of MEET THE PRESS. Today, we have Rafael Nadal and Robin Soderling to thank. Merci et bonne chance, monsieurs!

That, of course, means THIS WEEK will probably be the ratings king of Sunday, which is great news for my boss, who is on this show today, as a part of what could be one of the more hectic panel discussions we're likely to have today. Good luck, boss! And good luck me! And good luck readers, I guess. Good luck to the people competing in the doubles finals, too, at Roland Garros.

Anyway, my name is Jason and you should feel free to leave a comment or send an email or follow me on Twitter because why not, it will only take about ten seconds? Anyway, let's begin!

FOX NEWS SUNDAY

News today of two people who were pulled off planes last night who wanted to go sign up to be terrorists. They were arrested and charged with conspiracy, so voila.

And, in Grand Isle, Steve Harrigan is reporting that about half of the spill is being sucked up, thanks to the cap, but that there's no further progress expected until the relief wells are dug. Animals continue to die, and now "tar balls the size of hamburgers" are washing up on Florida panhandle beaches.

So, Thad Allen is here to talk about this. Wallace relates that the goal is to continue make adjustments to the cap until it's capturing 90% of the oil flow. Allen presents that as a best case scenario and a hoped-for goal. It still seems like no one has a real fix on the amount of oil being dumped into the Gulf: Allen says it's anywhere between 12,000 to 25,000 barrels a day, but that the recent steps taken might lead to a more accurate accounting.

Otherwise, get ready for RELIEF WELL SUMMER 2010! Tarballs and mai-tais! Or as Allen says, "Underpromise and overdeliver."

Allen says that a "huge skimming armada" that's poised to combat the oil as far offshore as possible, but that "some oil is going to get onshore."

Look Chris Wallace in the eye and tell him you're satisfied, Thad Allen. Was you satisfied, with all that BP has done? Allen says that the problem has to be compartmentalized between undersea, on sea, and off shore operations. Allen says at the well-head, BP is doing everything they can do, and industry experts have backed that up. He's not as satisfied with the public relations, and says more work is needed on the clean-up effort.

Did they act fast enough? Allen says yes. He adds that the berms that have been requested would have had impacts on the estuary that were not accounted for and which the Army Corps of Engineers would not approve. He says that no matter what anyone heard about early estimates of the spill amount, the Coast Guard had always prepared for a worst case scenario. Did the Coast Guard have access to videos and not make them public because BP called it proprietary information? Allen says he'll just it out and make a statement.

Who was in charge right from the start? Allen says, "The government is accountable, and frankly, I'm accountable."

Now, for some reason, we're going to talk to the one local official whose been downplaying this disaster, Haley Barbour. Maybe he's the only one available because Bobby Jindal is actually working too hard on this to come on the teevee? Here's Barbour, reporting live from opposite-land, for the Situation Room:

Today, Barbour says "the truth is we've had virtually no oil." They've had tarballs he says, but it's the "tar balls that naturally occur in the Gulf of Mexico every year" and which nevertheless have never to my mind been mentioned before on the news or in the "LET'S GO MISSISSIPPI" guide book or the ad campaigns that read, "Come to Mississippi for our tarballs and our terrible healthcare statistics!"

You know who's really eatin' ol' Haley's craw? The DAGGUMMED MEDIA, COL' MAKIN' SUCH A BIG DADGUMMED DEAL OF THE CRISIS. People are staying away from Mississippi beaches right now because of this widespread belief that there's some kind of disaster going on. Y'all needs to GIT ON DOWN TO THESE HERE MISSISSIP BEACHES, Y'ALL, and enjoy the summer tarball traditions that we are known for, for the past four minutes.

Wallace wants to as Barbour if Obama's shown "enough leadership" and "enough emotion" and I'm guessing that even though this is coming from the one guy in the whole politician in the whole country who's like, "THIS AINT NO BIG WHOOP," he's not going to say anything about it? Barbour says that it wouldn't be right for him to "pile on," but then says that "you never interrupt your opponent when he is destroying himself," which feels like a pile on, to me. Barbour also says that the six month moratorium on drilling is stupid. And BP should be allowed to drill even more deepwater wells, because HEY GREAT TRACK RECORD.

Meanwhile, the Gaza flotilla, starring the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren! I sure hope he will be fair to Israel, because I'm beginning to think that the lockstep support from the U.S. Government and the tacit agreement to not make observations or conclusions that suggest the Israel is not infallible to a Pope-like degree isn't good enough for anyone, anymore!

Anyway, Oren is really sorry about everything that happened to the IDF forces, who were cunningly tricked into shooting an American four times in the head, by terrorists! The blockade is necessary because the Palestinians will get rockets and kill the "peace process." Well, you know, the slow systemic extermination of people through starvation and privation sure is peaceful. I wish I could get Michael Oren's "peace process" inside a snowglobe at the duty-free? Because I would come home and shake that thing for hours. HOW MANY SHAKES DOES IT TAKE BEFORE I FORGET?

Of course, there will be an "investigation" of this, and Israel will not participate in any such investigation, from international authorities, because Israel is a democracy. Instead, there will be an internal investigation only, because "Israel has a right, an obligation" to absolve itself from wrongdoing.

As for the person who was shot four times in the head at close range, that was self-defense, of course! One shot to the head leaves all sorts of ANGRY LOBES left, for terrorism, so you really need to pump the brain full of more bullets!

Oren says, regarding the Obama administration and the government that throughout this whole matter, he hasn't heard "a word of rancorous criticism, not one." This is obviously a tremendous surprise. Oren goes on to say that Turkey has now sided with Iran and Hamas, and shall not get an apology from Israel, for anything.

You know, I bet Michael Oren wants his life back! Anyway, it's PANEL TIME, with Kristol, Liasson, Williams, and Dana Perino.

Kristol says something that doesn't make any sense about the Obama administration that Wallace salvages by saying it went "from a compliment to an insult." I gather, and it's hard to totally extract, that they are sort of doing this remix of THE OIL SPILL IS REALLY BAD AND AT THE SAME TIME WE ARE GOING TO PRETEND TO BE SURPRISED AND OFFENDED ABOUT THE SESTAK ROMANOFF STUFF. Also Mark Penn wrote something for us, on these pages? Did you read it? Because like all things Mark Penn, it was an idiot mess of screenwriter cliches and stupidity. Wallace runs the line about Obama and experience and maybe now people are rueing the day they voted for Obama because Mark Penn had gamed out disastrous oil spills as a microtrend and would never suggest a Clinton get too deep in the weeds politically (?!?!) -- and now that Fox has broadcast that, I think they own Penn seventeen million dollars?

Williams says something critical of Obama, and Kristol wants to "relish it," because this show doesn't give people enough chances to put Juan Williams down! And they are still talking about Sestak and Romanoff. Liasson basically says that if you are going to make political deals, it's best to close them.

And now we're at commercial? I think I may have blacked out, during that last segment, or I just didn't really understand the point of the conversation. I AM SO USEFUL TODAY!

OK there's some more panel, and it's about the terrible jobs report. Perino says that this jobs report really undercuts the Obama administration's economic effort, and it was surprising to her that they never tried to dial back the expectations. Williams rebuts with the "Feh, the Obama administration didn't inherit this mess," rejoinder, and calls for more stimulus. I think there needs to actually be a time now where the Obama administration understands that the unemployment rate is a structural problem, and not be the guy who retains the services, of say, a Ben Bernanke, who just doesn't want to do anything to solve the problem.

Naturally Kristol sees the extension of health care to more Americans as a bad thing, but this would obviously help keep millions of Americans out of titanic debt.

Perino says that it's in the employment arena that "the oil spill actually hurts us," because this six month "let's do some nominal things to ensure that we don't destroy the country's coastlines again" moratorium will cost us jobs. HEAR THAT, BROWN PELICANS? Don't talk to us about suffering!

Williams adopts the reasonable position that hey, jobs are great, but maybe jobs should be created in sectors that are less WIDESPREAD-ECOLOGICAL-DISASTERY. Perino retorts, "What, are you going to stop driving?" Gah. Uhm, hello, dumbass! I'm not going to stop driving, but guess what? HERE'S THE GOOD NEWS! There's nothing I can do with my car that anyone could possibly call an "unprecedented disaster." Pretty much the worst thing I can do to the earth with my car is stuff that people know and understand. And as for the long haul, there are policies we could undertake and standards we could raise to mitigate, and possibly alleviate, the ecological harm done by people driving. (ALSO I TAKE A BUS TO WORK MOST OF THE TIME?)

So, no, Dana, there's not going to be some event where I crash my car and people start reporting about how I've somehow managed to destroy an entire regional ecosystem and thousands of species of animals and destroyed entire industries. Though I'd love it if I could!

Ha, Bill Kristol is sad that people who screw up the world get criticized. He's tired of demonization! But demonization is like the oxygen in his cockpit!

OKAY, I am running way behind today, sorry! On to the next one!

THIS WEEK

Thad Allen, Gaza blockade, oil spill, and paneling with George Will, Liz Cheney, and Markos Moulitsas and my boss, Arianna Huffington (FULL DISCLOSURE: YOU ARE READING THE HUFFINGTON POST, MY NAME IS JASON, ARIANNA AND I HAVE A LOT IN COMMON, BUT I AM BOTH MUCH LESS PLEASANT TO BE AROUND AND A REAL DISAPPOINTMENT TO MEET IN PERSON.)

First, here's Thad Allen of the U.S. Coast Guard (FULL DISCLOSURE: MY DAD WAS IN THE COAST GUARD AND I LIKE THE COAST GUARD A LOT). Allen says again that there's some containment success, and that it can actually end up containing the majority of the spill.

Tapper asks why they aren't just sucking up the oil, as the Saudis did some decades ago. This is something a lot of people have been wondering about. Allen says that there are no tankers ready to perform that task -- they require modifications. But is that a BP problem or is that a tanker problem? I mean, after a highly useful display of tanker suck-up-oil-itude, did everyone say, "Well, we've done that successfully! Let's not have any more tankers that can do that ever!" If we could be doing that with someone else's tankers, then we should do that.

Also, the "area of operations" is "very different." This is why I'm always so uncertain about vacuuming my bedroom. SURE, IT WORKED IN THE LIVING ROOM, BUT COME ON!

Allen says that the problem with this oil spill is that it's not a "monolithic oil slick" but a bunch of disaggregated oil slicks. Also, it does a real good job being a huge monolithic problem. It's really the best of both oil slick worlds, if both oil slick world are terrible.

Allen says BP is being honest and up front and complying with the government's demands and meeting it's needs and who knows, maybe someday BP and America will fall in love or something.

Tapper inquires about the Kafka-esque nightmare that journalists have face in the region -- being blocked from covering the story. Allen says that the policy, media wise, is that there will be unlimited access to journalists, barring safety and security issues. Tapper points out to him, that GUESS WHAT, THAT IS NOT WHAT'S GOING ON RIGHT NOW, IN THE GULF OF MEXICO.

Oh, hey, now John Kerry is here, back from carrying Merry and Pippin to Isengard! And John Cornyn, slow-motion cowboy, is also here. They will argue, about America.

Tapper asks if the White House has been to cozy with BP, and Kerry says no, they are "holding their feet to the fire," and that Congress will hold "the drilling process" accountable. Cornyn says BP has been lousy and that no one has known who's in charge. Kerry says that it's "fashionable in Washington to blame the Obama administration" for the oil spill and that work on the disaster began the same day. And Obama's been to the region three times! BUT WHY DIDN'T HE GO THIRTY TIMES?? Well, because it takes a lot of regional resources to accomodate a presidential visit and thirty times may be overkill. THEN WHY DID HE GO AT ALL? Because you're the President, and you have to show up for these things, even if all you accomplish is some reassurance. THEN WHY DIDN'T NOBEL PRIZE WINNER STEVEN CHU IDENTIFY THE IMAGINARY NUMBER OF TIMES TO GO TO THE GULF THAT WOULD BE PERFECT? I don't know, dude, I guess really they are history's greatest monsters.

Kerry says that during the Bush administration, there was incest at the MMS. Brother on sister sexting, and secret meetings between oil executives and Dick Cheney where goats were sacrificed for the sake of oil profits (DICK CHENEY THEN ATE THOSE GOATS, ATE THEM ALL UP!)

Cornyn says that there's some good stuff in the energy bill but hates cap and trade, when unemployment is so high. YOU CAN'T RAISE TAXES WHEN UNEMPLOYMENT IS SO HIGH, ALSO YOU CAN'T RAISE THEM WHEN IT'S SO LOW. But he thinks that we can "hit some singles," on energy policy, especially if that Joyce fellow is standing at the plate, calling you safe at first.

Kerry says that Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio would both want to reduce the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. He also says there is no tax in the bill, but a requirement for polluters to reduce pollution, and create a lot of jobs.

Flotilla time. Jake's been really driving forward the fact that an American citizen was shot four times in the head. He asks Cornyn what the response should be when one of our allies shoots an American four times in the head. Cornyn says, well, "we don't know all the circumstances," and hey, who knows? Has the media explored the possibility that this American ALREADY HAD FOUR BULLETS IN HIS HEAD BEFORE THE IDF SHOWED UP? No one has, right? I guess we should maybe put a poll in the field.

Awesome. Now I am a "responsible" member of the "mainstream media." Next up: a panel discussion entitled, "FOUR BULLETS IN YOUR BRAIN: Why does everyone downplay the benefits of Israel's generosity?"

Basically, Cornyn says Israel can kill whatever Americans they want, it's cool, whatever, Hamas should have never won an election!

Tapper also brings up the fact that General Petraeus has characterized the Israel-Palestine problem as a strategic liability to U.S. troops in the region. Kerry sort of disagrees and agrees at the same time, in an answer that doesn't make much sense.

Tapper doesn't understand why Israel would deny Palestinians pasta. They literally did this! They still disallow things like "musical instruments." It's actually sort of bonkers.

The overall trend I see on the chart is that residents of Gaza are not allowed to make things, or grow things, or farm things, or produce things. I've no idea where a ban on pasta fit into this -- presumably it would have been an inexpensive, easily transportable foodstuff, and it might have led to widespread "nutrition" among Gazans.

Even as I type this, the maintenance guy from my apartment just came by to tell us that there is some sort of gas leak in our building! And they have had to shut the gas to our apartments off for the time being. He doesn't shoot me four times in the face, however, so, upside!

Kerry wants a new list of things that Gazans can have, so that future flotillas can just have those things, which they can give to the IDF, who will make sure that it reaches someone other than Gazans. It will be like Schindler's List, only really, terribly cynical.

Anyway, if Cornyn just wanted to show up and relax today, Kerry's affording him the opportunity. Tapper does ask Cornyn about Mark Kirk being the new Richard Blumenthal, and whether or not he has a different standard for Republicans. Cornyn says basically, there are "issues" in the Kirk race that need to be addressed and that voters will base their decisions on. Kerry says that this stuff bothers veterans on a personal level, but that voters at the local level will decide these races. Though Tapper presses him, Kerry will not answer how Blumenthal's misstatements made him feel personally. (Though at one point, he allows that it was "over the line.")

Panel time! We begin with that Tigers game, where umpire Jim Joyce shot four bullets into the face of baseball history and managed to take responsbility for it. OH BUT NO, we are actually starting with the oil spill. JAKE YOU GOT ME COMING AND GOING HERE, MAN!

But okay, oil spill. Will says that "this week this became a competition of emotions." Liz Cheney says that BP's ad campaign is not the smart thing to do right now, and recommends they have a daily briefing and not a brand-management effort. Moulitsas says, uhm...something? About emotion? Not following him. Arianna says that the administration erred by buying BP's lines wholesale, and doesn't think that BP should continue to be trusted. Cheney objects to the idea that this is the result of the Bush-Cheney regulatory regime, noting that the exceptions were granted during the Obama administration. Will says that the MMS is the bigger failure, and somehow this means Americans can't have health care.

Arianna says that the current regulatory regime is the end result of Bush/Cheney loopholes and cronyism, coupled with Obama administration inattention to undoing the mechanisms of their predecessors. That doesn't stop with the regulatory framework governing oil, by the way, not by a long shot! One of the ways in which Obama's "you can't have the keys to the car back" refrain to the Republicans has been utterly hollow is the fact that Obama's still ghostriding the Bush/Cheney whip.

Naturally Liz Cheney only hears the first part of this and calls all of that a "left wing talking point," which she confronts with right wing talking points, and now there is an argument over Halliburton, which Liz Cheney says never defrauded taxpayers and, even more bizarrely, had nothing to do with the oil spill (?!), and now she and my boss are yelling, and Arianna invokes Politifact, and Jake takes the floor to try to give Markos another chance to speak. Hopefully this time it will not be some weird run-on sentence!

He points out that Obama's polls are slipping and people are worried that another corporation will get away with...some bad stuff. He comes close to noting that what we see here, once again, is the emergence of "Too Big To Fail" in the form of companies that get soe large and interconnected that accountability is impossible. You think that anyone is going to go to jail over this? I mean, seriously?

Liz Cheney says Markos is wrong and that Americans are really scared about what the moratorium on deepwater drilling will do to the economy. I turn to my wife, an American, to ask if she's scared about that and she responds, "Uhm, ____ no. That's the stupidest thing I have ever heard."

On to the jobs report, which, by the way, is terrible news! "It's terrible news," says George Will. JINX, BUY ME A COKE! Arianna says it's terrible, as well, and underlines the point that the unemployment problem is a structural, not a cyclical problem, and a larger assault on the middle class.

Gaza flotilla time. As Alex Pareene noted, Liz Cheney recently made the hysterical demand that Obama "reverse [his] position that unnecessary death is 'tragic.'" Yes, see, while in the midst of not saying a single discouraging thing about Israel and fully backing up their side of the story, Obama referred to the loss of life as "tragic." This bothered Cheney greatly! Over to Alex:

So Liz is just grabbing onto whatever she can to convince Americans that the president is not willing to do what it takes to protect us from... some sort of nuclear slingshot aimed at America, from Gaza (or perhaps a "sharpened pole" long enough to reach our shores):

This is what she came up with:

Yesterday, President Obama said the Israeli action to stop the flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip was "tragic." What is truly tragic is that President Obama is perpetuating Israel's enemies' version of events. The Israeli government has imposed a blockade around Gaza because Hamas remains committed to Israel's destruction...

President Obama is contributing to the isolation of Israel, and sending a clear signal to the Turkish-Syrian-Iranian axis that their methods for ostracizing Israel will succeed, and will be met by no resistance from America.

There is no middle ground here. Either the United States stands with the people of Israel in the war against radical Islamic terrorism or we are providing encouragement to Israel's enemies -- and our own. Keep America Safe calls on President Obama to reverse his present course and support the state of Israel immediately and unequivocally.

It's hardly worth bothering to correct the record, but the president just said that it was "tragic" that people, including a 19-year-old American citizen, died. I guess Liz's position is that the loss of life was necessary.

I think Alex is on to something here, but I worry he may be discounting the fact that the opposite of tragedy is comedy, and that Liz Cheney actually needed for an American to get shot four times in the head by the IDF to provide her with a little bit of laughter and pleasure. So it's no wonder she is mad at Obama for suggesting that the joy she felt when she heard that an American had four bullets pumped into his skull was actually the opposite reaction she should have been feeling. This cast a pall over the whole Cheney family masturbatorium!

Tapper points out all of this to Cheney, but she's basically unmoved, even going as far as to lump Turkey into the family of state-sponsors of terrorism. She hates the fact that anyone would equate the occupation of Palestine with a bad thing. My wife interjects.

SHE: "Who is this person? She is insane."

ME: "You mean you don't know? That is Dick Cheney's daughter."

SHE: "She is ridiculous."

ME: "I can't believe you don't know who Liz Cheney is!"

SHE: "I know WHO she is. I just don't know what she looks like. Why should I? I avoid these dumb shows. She is a person whose job it is to come on dumb shows I don't watch. She doesn't know me either, so who cares? She should get a real job, or something."

ME: "You know, she actually has a job. She works for Keep America Safe, an advocacy organization that tries to terrify Americans."

SHE: "Yes, well, I figured she probably does something hideous, like that."

Markos objects to Turkey being considered anything other than a NATO ally. (THOUGH HEY, THAT'S GETS PRETTY COMPLICATED, LIVE FROM KURDISTAN, I AM CIRCUMSTANCES.) Arianna points out that the it's in everyone's long term strategic interests to marginalize extremists and bring moderate actors to the forefront of diplomatic efforts -- sort of a counter-insurgency strategy doctrine. Will says the "international community" is a "fiction."

My wife gets a little apoplectic again, but I point out that soon, George Will will be talking about baseball, and will make more sense.

More back and forth over whether there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Tapper points out that Hamas has played a role in that as well. Arianna agrees, and further stipulates that Hamas cannot be considered anything other than a terrorist organization -- but they are a terrorist organization that won an election, which the Bush White House encouraged. Tapper throws that back in Cheney's direction, and she admits, "That was a mistake."

Then she and Moulitsas fall out over whether these flotillas are peaceful and whether or not Israel has a right to stop them. Markos points out that he never said Israel could not run it's blockade, they just should do so with more competence and less shooting an American four times in the head.

And now George Will is talking about baseball. ENDORPHIN RUSH.

NO MEET THE PRESS, SO WHY NOT DO THIS INSANITY AGAIN!

THE MACLAUGHLIN GROUP

Everyone please stand for the national anthem of the McLaughlin Group!

Thank you, Andrew WK!

Holy crap! The top issue for this show is the fact that the United Nations is sixty-five years old. How is this happening? Anyway, the UN was formed many years ago to prevent the scourge of war and bring equality to the world and that's why everything has been so perfect, for our entire lives! Now, for some reason, we will talk about this, but only after a long video of stock footage of old newsreels and portentious, Walkenesque voiceover narration from John McLaughlin.

But has the United Nations worked out okay, Pat Buchanan? Buchanan says no, and it didn't make small nations equal to large nations, and there have been a lot of other wars, and now the General Assembly is anti-American and should be shut down. But we "are not giving up our main core of powers" to anyone.

Eleanor Clift says the UN is a "body where everyone comes together" and it's "perfectly fine to listen to grievances," and that if it didn't exist, people would only demand its creation.

Monica Crowley says the UN is corrupt and perverse and putrid. She spends a few minutes pretending that she cares about the Rwandan genocide and Darfur. Now they are yelling at everyone! Clift says it's nice of Crowley to blame the UN and not Obama for those things, but Crowley promises to go back to doing that when it is convenient.

Mort Zuckerman was crying about not getting anything to say, so he gets a chance to speak his piece, which is to say that the united Nations is extremely useful except in all the ways it isn't.

Will the UN evolve into a world government, asks McLaughlin. Everyone says no, Buchanan adding that America has too many guns to let that happen. John doesn't think so either! But we may need a "better world court than the Hague!" And the UN has a "wonderful humanitarian history!" But Crowley points out the Iran is on the women's right board. (Huh? Crowley cares about women's rights, now?) And now McLaughlin is shouting us to commercial, leaving us to wonder how this was ever decided as a topic for dicussion.

So, the next topic. OMGZ THE DEBTS! And somehow there is a Hillary Clinton montage? THE DITCH OF DEBT! McLaughlin just says that about nine times. The ditch of debt! Where the ditch, is debt. Debt is like a ditch! A literal, metaphorical ditch! Gingrich says the U.S. government is a bubble! In a ditch! Of debt!

Mort says we are heading down a dangerous road, a ROAD BESET ON ALL SIDES BY DITCHES, CONTAINING DEBT. How will Viggo Mortenson get his only son down this Road, without losing his humanity. Answer: I do not know. I have not read the Cormac McCarthy novel yet. Nor have I seen the movie! But I did see NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and am more worried about the guy walking around with the bolt-action cow-brainer, you know? I would actually prefer there to be a ditch of debt, to hide in, from that dude, because he is one strange cat, and, again, he's carrying a bolt-action cow-brainer?

Mort wants Obama to increase the taxes and cut the spending. But speaking of metal penetrating the brains of cows, Buchanan wants us to reform the taX code, which I'm sure lobbyists will let us do while they are taking their week off, from destroying America. Crowley says that the poor need to pay more taxes, because it is an abomination, and poor people are getting a public good. (Monica Crowley cares about "public good" now?)

WHAT ABOUT THE VALUE-ADDED TAX? Mort says yes, do it. Crowley says, "A value added tax is just that, a tax!" THANKS FOR PENETRATING THAT MYSTERY, MONICA! It was pretty amazing how murky that was! Did you all know that ATM's are machines? THEY ARE!

Ted Turner says that God wants the United States to stop destroying West Virginia with mountaintop removal and oil drilling that's destroying the Gulf of Mexico. He backs the Pickens plan -- a shift to natural gas, and converting the truck fleet to natural gas. SHOULD WE DO THIS?

Crowley says it is a strong argument because its an American resource and it's cleaner for the environment. (Monica Crowley cares about the environment, now?) From there, the arguments aren't that interesting. Mort likes the Pickens plan. Buchanan says that gas is more efficient and if it wasn't we'd have switched to natural gas a long time ago. McLaughlin scoffs that surely the oil industry has something to do with that. Clift points out that the Pickens plan was a hot topic TWO YEARS AGO.

Okay now they will make predictions, I suggest that you do not use these as the basis for any cash wagers in this economy.

How many no votes will Elena Kagan receive? Buchanan says over 30. Clift says she'll receive 68 yes votes. Crowley says 35 against. Mort says 25 against. McLaughlin says 24 against. Whoever comes the closest without going over will move on to the showcase showdown, where they will win back the half-hour of their life it took to air this show.

Hey, so this is the part where I say goodbye and have a great week, and I'll leave you with a reminder that the Blagojevich trial is getting underway, so it's a good time to re-enjoy Spencer Ackerman and Eli Lake's "Dey Know (Blago)." WE GOT THIS FOR CHEAP. Enjoy!