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In the Crossfire

Does Bush administration mean business?

(CNN) -- In the midst of the corporate scandals plaguing Wall Street, questions have been raised about the past business dealings of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Is the administration now condemning actions that Bush and Cheney may have once practiced?

The Securities and Exchange Commission investigated Bush on suspicion of insider trading after his 1990 sale of stock in Harken Energy Corp., where he was a director. Bush said recently the agency looked at the issue and concluded, "there's no case."

The SEC also is investigating the accounting practices at Cheney's former oil company, the Texas-based Halliburton Corp.

Bay Buchanan, president of the American Cause, a foundation founded by her brother, former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, and Vic Kamber, a Democratic strategist, step into the "Crossfire" with hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala.

BEGALA: Bay, let me ask you about the albatross hanging around your party's neck. Actually, there are two. One is called Harken; one is called Halliburton. One is around Bush's neck. One is around Cheney's neck. ... [A poll] from The New York Times asked people if they believe basically what Bush and Cheney are saying or are they hiding something or are they lying or telling the truth?

Here is what they asked our fellow Americans. When you look at Bush and Cheney, are they telling the truth? Eleven percent think Cheney is telling the truth; 53 [percent] think he is hiding or lying. Only 17 [percent] think Bush is telling the truth, and 57 [percent] think he is hiding something or lying.

BUCHANAN: You didn't put the third line there. How many do not know one way or the other, do not have any knowledge one way or the other?

BEGALA: Well, when you get 57 percent that think he's lying, that is already the majority of the country, Bay.

BUCHANAN: You know, let me tell you ...

BEGALA: What's the damage? Why won't he release the records? What's the downside?

BUCHANAN: Look, he doesn't -- this is -- if you're talking about the Harken situation, it was totally investigated. It's 10 years old. Absolutely nothing found. There's nothing ...

BEGALA: Why not release the records?

BUCHANAN: Because -- just because you Democrats in the media might want some records revealed does not mean that we have to give them all the time. I'll tell you something, Harken is over. ...

BEGALA: Did you know that the SEC never interviewed Bush, never interviewed the CEO, never interviewed officers and never interviewed directors?

BUCHANAN: Well, maybe it was a slam-dunk.

BEGALA: That is not a thorough investigation.

BUCHANAN: I can tell you this, Harken is not a problem. It's 10 years old. Nobody is paying the least bit of attention that there's something you all want.

I'll tell you why they're going after Cheney now. There is no evidence on Cheney whatsoever. There is no suspicion of wrongdoing whatsoever. He is willing, we're all delighted about the investigation, have a thorough one. I am certain it will come out absolutely fine. But let me tell you what the problem is ...

BEGALA: Yes, because Bush is ...

BUCHANAN: You all -- Democrats spent three or four times this year trying to undermine the integrity of our commander in chief. And they failed. They suggested he knew something before 9/11. They were trying to get something ...

BEGALA: No, they didn't.

BUCHANAN: Oh, they most certainly did, and they failed and they backed off it. They couldn't get anything on George Bush, so now they're saying who is the next best? You all have no difficulty whatsoever undermining and really destroying the character of good people so that you can pick up a few votes. And that is what is contemptible.

KAMBER: Now, Bay, can I go back to Harken? Wait a minute, I have got to deal with this Harken issue. ...

CARLSON: ... Jon Corzine, [a Democratic senator] from New Jersey, ran Goldman Sachs for years. There are now questions. There are no -- I mean, he's not about to be hauled off to prison or anything, but there are questions about his stewardship with Goldman Sachs. There's a class-action suit against it. A former employee of Goldman Sachs says that while he was running it, that investors were forced to buy stocks at inflated prices. These are very serious allegations. When is he going to get hauled before his colleagues and made to answer to them?

KAMBER: Good question. I hope he is. ... I don't think anyone should be getting away free -- with a free ride. ...

Let me go back to Harkin though for a second. The one thing I don't understand -- I'm not the stockbroker, I don't know all the mentalities of Wall Street. I do know George Bush has acknowledged he knew the company was going to lose $9 million before he sold his stock. It ended up losing $22 million.

Now he is saying, well, if I had known -- I couldn't have sold it if it was $22 million because the stock would have dropped. Common sense tells me that if your company is losing $9 million, the stock is going to drop. He sold it before. If that's not insider trading, I don't know what insider trading is.




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