Should Bush's Economic Summit Include Democrats?; Can Bloomberg Ban Smoking From Bars, Restaurants?; Should Women Get More Restroom Facilities?
Aired August 9, 2002 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE: on the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right: Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.
In the CROSSFIRE: Take one dictator, add big oil, smear liberally with political innuendo, and send in the army. It's the perfect accompaniment for a cruel economy. The CROSSFIRE "Political Grill."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY: Nobody's taking away your right to smoke.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: But if His Honor gets his way, smokers will have to butt out of all the bars and restaurants in New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLOOMBERG: Look, if you want to smoke on the street, smoke on the street. You don't have a right to hurt others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Who are the biggest losers in the arena? Half the guys on the court, or all the women in line for the restroom? We'll talk to the father of potty parity.
Tonight on CROSSFIRE.
From the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Robert Novak.
ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE.
Tonight do-gooders' attempts to fix two of the most annoying things about going out in public: breathing other people's cigarette smoke and those long lines at the women's restroom. Is it really gender discrimination?
But first, our daily lineup of stories for the discriminating political junky: our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert." This morning the Secret Service started enforcing new traffic regulations around the White House: no parking, standing or stopping is allowed along four blocks of 17th Street, which runs along the western edge of the White House grounds. Trucks are now banned along an eight-block stretch on 17th.
Now, not only is President Bush more than 1,400 miles out of town, there's no specific security threat to the White House. It's just the bureaucrats' overactive imagination.
I used to say the Secret Service would like to turn Washington into a closed city like Gorky in the Soviet Union. I was just kidding, but maybe I shouldn't be now.
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Bob, I love the Secret Service, they protect our president. If the Bush administration thinks we need to do this, far be it for me to defend them, but if they think we should do it, I support them. I think they're right. We've got to protect our president and our vice president.
Speaking of our president, though, he's hosting an economic forum next week in Waco, Texas that will exclude critics of his administration's economic policies. Now, Bush was once a cheerleader at the exclusive Philips Andover Academy, so apparently he doesn't like those who doesn't have the proper team spirit.
The conference will make room, however, for several multimillionaire CEOs who've given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Bush and the GOP.
Now, when President Clinton hosted a similar economic forum back in Little Rock, Arkansas, it included all sides, including Paul O'Neill, who was then the CEO of Alcoa, and is now President Bush's treasury secretary.
I suppose Bush's philosophy is: I want people who write big checks, not people who use big words.
NOVAK: The reason he's not inviting potty-mouths like you, Paul, is he didn't want to turn this into a political roast, and that's the way Democrats are.
Sam Waksal, the disgraced ImClone CEO, did the perp walk back in June. Waksal is accused of insider trading. This week he was indicted on additional charges, including bank fraud and obstruction of justice.
That doesn't seem to bother his favorite politician, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. "New York Post" ace reporter Deborah Orin reports that Hillary does not plan to return a penny -- not a single penny -- of the $27,000 that Waksal has contributed to her.
New York's other Democratic senator, Chuck Schumer, doesn't plan to give back Waksal's $3,000, nor will various Democratic committees get rid of more than $70,000 from Waksal.
You see, dirty money from a crook is OK if it goes to liberal Democrats.
BEGALA: I'll bet you Hillary would give back that money if Bush and Cheney would give back the money that they got from Harkin and Halliburton, the companies that they ran into the ground while they cashed out. I mean, that's a lot worse.
BEGALA: Dick Cheney is the ultra...
NOVAK: Dick Armey.
CHUNG: I'm sorry, Dick Armey. I was just talking about Dick Cheney. Thank you, Bob.
Armey is an ultra-right wing House majority leader, but he's beginning to sound a little bit like a liberal. Maybe that's why I'm so confused. Today's "New York Times" reports that Mr. Armey has described an unprovoked U.S. attack on Saddam Hussein as "unjustifiable." In today's "Los Angeles Times" Armey says he supports lifting the embargo and opening trade relations with Fidel Castro's communist Cuba.
Similarly, arch-conservative Senator Jesse Helms has had a late- career reversal on AIDS. He now supports assistance to Africa to find the virus.
Analysts contribute the change of heart either to the fact that both men are retiring after long careers this year, or the fact that hell froze over this afternoon.
NOVAK: You see, the thing you can't understand, Paul -- or can't seem to understand is that going to war is a very serious thing. It isn't politics, it isn't ideology, it's what's the national interest of the country. And I admire Dick Armey for standing up and saying what he thinks on that.
BEGALA: I do understand that.
NOVAK: The leading North Carolina Democratic senator candidate is Erskine Bowles, who was President Clinton's White House chief of staff, though you'd never know it from Bowles.
Republicans have been taunting him to mention his old boss Clinton's name, just once. Bowles finally succumbed this week in addressing a Rotary Club meeting when he bragged about what he called Clinton's fiscal discipline.
To reward Bowles, Republican strategists sent him a recording of Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man."
Incidentally, Mark Shields and I will interview Bowles' probable GOP opponent Elizabeth Dole tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. Eastern on "NOVAK, HUNT AND SHIELDS." Don't miss it.
BEGALA: Erskine Bowles ought to be proud of the work he did for President Clinton, helping him create all those jobs and balance the budget. And he should not make the mistake Al Gore made of hiding from the most successful president in my lifetime.
The Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas is a great group -- believe me, I know them, I've worked with them -- but it's come up with a truly dumb idea. It has asked all the political candidates in the state of Texas to stop advertising on television for the first 11 days of September, supposedly in memory of the 3,000 Americans killed in the terrorist attacks.
Now, it's lost on me how stifling democracy in all of its messy, cacophonous beauty, pays tribute to Americans who lost their lives to terrorists who hate democracy.
I think a better commemoration would be to call on all the politicians to support better pay and benefits for the cops, firefighters and other government workers who help make our democracy work.
NOVAK: Paul, I agree with you. That is a dumb idea.
But it's also a dumb idea to try to turn the commemoration of September 11 into a labor issue -- a labor union issue. It is not that.
BEGALA: Well, I think that they ought to pay those guys what they're worth.
In WorldCom's home state of Mississippi this week, our president had the nerve to talk about corporate reform, even as he raised special interest money for the Republican who was WorldCom's congressman. Secret Service agents moved the discussion inside for fear that our president would be struck lightning from God almighty for his hypocrisy, and I'm glad they did.
That was just one small part of the political week. It has been hotter than asphalt in Georgia this week.
So to keep us hot and fire things up, please welcome Democratic consultant Victor Kamber and Republican consultant Clifford May.
Gentlemen, welcome back.
NOVAK: Vic Kamber, I don't know if you were listening to me, but I talked about this scoundrel Sam Waksal who is under all kinds of charges, gave money to Hillary, she won't give it back.
But this seems to be a pattern by the Democrats. We have Jack Grubman, who is one of the real sleazeballs of Wall Street, who has given $160,000 to the Democrats. Nobody wants to give any of this money back. He gave $100,000 the day he was subpoenaed. He's trying to get soft treatment.
What do you think? Do you think the Democrats ought to give that money back? VICTOR KAMBER, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: Bob, as you know, there's a difference between subpoenas, indictments and convictions. The fact that Grubman has been subpoenaed to testify -- so what? He hasn't done anything yet that we know is guilty or illegal. The money certainly hasn't been any issue of illegality. He's not a Mafia figure. He hasn't stolen money; it's not drug money; he's not robbed a bank.
I wouldn't give it back. I mean, we need money too much to compete with the Republicans. You have, what, 10 times as much as we do, and you've gotten it from as many crooks as we have or more.
NOVAK: I would hope you would stipulate that there's plenty of Democratic crooks out there.
But on this question of Grubman, let me quote, and put it up on the screen, what Congressman Richard Baker of the Financial Services Committee -- I think Mr. Baker, both sides of the aisle agree, is one of the really solid citizens on Capitol Hill.
He says: "For the Democrats, the party that purportedly fights for the people over the powerful, them to accept Grubman bribe money in exchange for leniency is symptomatic of the hypocritical corruption of the limousine Lincoln Center liberals."
You know, Grubman was a guy who was promoting WorldCom's stock at the same time it was being sold down by his buddies.
KAMBER: Bob, first of all, let's not make Mr. Baker into something more than he is. He's a conservative Republican, Southerner...
KAMBER: Well, to my standards, certainly bad.
But he's a conservative Republican, it's a partisan issue. The fact -- Grubman may not be Mr. American in your sense, or mine, potentially.
Again, he's not guilty of any crime that we know of yet.
NOVAK: Just take the dirty money.
KAMBER: He's not been indicted of anything.
And if we're talking dirty money, let's just look at where the Republicans and Mr. Bush raised all their money.
BEGALA: Well, in fact, Clifford May, let's look at where some of that money came from. It came from a whole lot of CEOs, many of them very honest businessmen, nothing wrong with that.
But our president on Tuesday is going to be hosting an economic forum -- I've talked about this earlier today -- he is only inviting people who support his economic policies. And worse, he's really using this as a taxpayer-subsidized fund-raiser.
Look at some of the names of the people that he's bringing down there. Glenn Barton -- these are all honest businessmen so far as I know, and they're lovely citizens. They also happen to be humongous donors to the Republicans. Here's a guy who gave 600 grand to the Republicans. Charles Schwab gave almost $1 million. John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco, 435, and this guy Floyd Kvamme, who was a Bush "pioneer," raised at least $100,000, and I couldn't see how much he had personally donated.
Isn't it wrong for the president to use a government, taxpayer- subsidized forum as a way to reward campaign contributors?
CLIFFORD MAY, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: It sure would be, but that's not what's going on here. You're a little misinformed. He's inviting people down there who disagree with him from varying points of view.
MAY: As a matter of fact, let me tell you one of the people, because there are any number of union people who I believe are Democrats...
BEGALA: That number is one.
MAY: Let me mention four, as you just one. How about Doug McCarron, general president of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.
BEGALA: Not anti-Bush (ph).
MAY: How about Bill Novelli of AARP? It's not a union...
MAY: He's a Democrat. He's a Democrat.
KAMBER: I don't know that.
MAY: I believe he is.
KAMBER: McCarron's been a Bush supporter, he's been a friend of Bush's.
NOVAK: Do you know how much money he gave...
KAMBER: To Democrats...
NOVAK: Just a minute. You can't answer my question if I haven't said. Do you know how much McCarron has given to the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee in the last month, do you know?
KAMBER: No, no.
NOVAK: I can tell you, $1 million. He's a Democrat.
MAY: We've also got Jerry Hood of the Teamsters, he's going to be there. Look, this is...
BEGALA: This is as phony as an Arthur Andersen audit. This is Bush going down here and using us -- Clinton invited Paul O'Neill, as I mentioned before, who is now the treasury secretary. Where are the voices of dissent?
MAY: One of the things you want to have in an economic summit are CEOs. Right now, there are like 700,000 publicly traded companies. About seven of them have CEOs who are crooks and they are going away in handcuffs for a long time, and that's as it should be. But one of the things you want to be careful about is not saying, oh, we hate CEOs, we hate business. There are a lot of people who don't work for the government, who do work in businesses. They're not bad people. CEOs and business people and entrepreneurs are not bad people. We want their input if we're going to talk about how to grow the economy, make more jobs for people.
BEGALA: Let me tell you what a Ronald Reagan economist said about this Bush economic summit. He said -- Bruce Bartlett, a Bush and Bush Sr. economist, said it's politically political, purely PR. The people selected for this event are going to be very, very carefully chosen to make sure nobody gets in there and starts ranting and raving about how the Bush tax cut caused the recession. They'll tell the president what he wants to hear and reaffirm his policies. A Ronald Reagan economist said that.
NOVAK: Are you suggesting -- I happen to know Bruce Bartlett. He's a fanatic supply-sider. Are you suggesting that he says that the tax cut caused the economy?
BEGALA: I'm saying just what he said in the "New York Times" today, Novak.
NOVAK: But he's -- he's -- wait a minute, let's have a little truth here. He's not suggesting it caused it. He says he doesn't want to bring in potty mouths who are going to say it caused the economy.
BEGALA: Bush doesn't want any dissent.
MAY: Listen, if you think of the way -- the way to grow the economy is to raise taxes, then go ahead, make that case. Herbert Hoover thought that. We've gotten rid of that kind of economic policy.
KAMBER: Republican Herbert Hoover.
MAY: Yes, and if you want to take old Republican Herbert Hoover policies for the Democratic Party now...
BEGALA: How about Clinton economic policies? They were pretty good, weren't they?
NOVAK: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in Herbert Hoover's day. We're going to take a break now. In a minute, we'll ask our guests why one prominent Republican might not be in lockstep with the administration on their plans for Iraq.
Later, an issue that's for women at least can't wait, but often has to.
And in our quote of the day, one of the nation's most recognizable artists and political activists announced the beginning of his final act.
NOVAK: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We fired up the political grill and are talking with Democratic consultant Victor Kamber and Republican consultant Clifford May -- Paul.
BEGALA: Clifford May, before you were a Republican consultant, you were an ace reporter for "New York Times."
BEGALA: You had a career in journalism, then a career as a partisan. Now you're running the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and I want to ask you about the war against terrorism, which our president wants to take to Iraq. On the home front, he got an enormous setback yesterday when Dick Armey, the right-wing conservative Republican who leads the House majority, said this -- let me put this up on the screen there -- "I don't believe that America will justifiably make an unprovoked attack on another nation. It would not be consistent with what we have been as a nation, or what we should be as a nation."
Dick Armey, peacenick.
MAY: You know, I'm a great fan of Dick Armey, I don't agree with him on this, but there are reasonable people on both sides of this issue. In my organization, Jack Kemp would probably agree with that, Jim Woolsey probably wouldn't agree. Let me...
NOVAK: I agree with it.
MAY: You agree with it? Let me say this: If we were on the show one year ago and I said to you, you know what, al Qaeda is a terrible threat to the U.S., they bombed the World Trade Center, which they had in '93, as you know, they've bombed two of our embassies in Africa, they've bombed the USS Cole, we have to do something about it, and if that means securing regime change in Afghanistan, let's go for it -- everyone at this table would say, Cliff, you're absolutely nuts.
Now, we have more reason than that...
BEGALA: Actually, you know, I had a security clearance at the White House, and I know exactly what (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
MAY: The link is this, the link is this, that we know Saddam Hussein is much more of a threat, we have much more evidence than we did against Osama bin Laden.
Listen to me carefully. Saddam Hussein is somebody who has murdered thousands of his people with poison gas, tried to assassinate a president, tried to wipe a friendly country off the map...
BEGALA: But he didn't crush into our buildings the way al Qaeda...
MAY: He's looking -- he's right now trying to build weapons of mass destruction that he'll give to terrorists to use against us. I hope a year from now, we're not playing this show and saying, gosh, I wish we would have done something about it.
Here is a question we have to ask ourselves: What is the capabilities that he's trying to get, what will he do with them? Do we not have a right to what is being called anticipatory self-defense, with someone like Saddam Hussein? That's the question. And I know it's a hard question.
NOVAK: This is something that finally is being debated in the country and will continue to be. But I want to go back to something that's one of the strangest political things that I've seen in a long time, and that is that the Senate -- Democratic investigators on this corporate corruption are calling in everybody, they're calling in the office boys, you know, to see if they're responsible, but they won't call in the man from Citibank, Robert Rubin, the former secretary of the treasury. And why he should be called in -- let's listen to what Trent Lott said about it Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: Mr. Rubin actually made a call to the Treasury Department about their credit rating. It seems to me he has information that would be of interest to the committee, and I would think that they would want to call him to see what he has to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOVAK: He made a call about the Enron credit rating to a friend of his at the treasury. Isn't that worth calling him in to ask -- just to question him? KAMBER: Well, I frankly would love to see Bob Rubin come back to Washington in a major role to possibly turn the economy around the way he did...
NOVAK: That's not the question.
KAMBER: I know that's not the question, Bob, but I'm saying I'd love to see Bob Rubin come back.
NOVAK: Don't you think it's worth asking him that?
KAMBER: I don't -- to ask him what -- to have a Senate hearing to ask why you made a phone call? Come on, Bob.
NOVAK: He's lobbying. He's lobbying his former colleagues at the Treasury.
KAMBER: I don't know that he was lobbying, you don't know that he was lobbying, and Trent Lott didn't say that. Trent Lott -- you know...
KAMBER: You want a Democrat to berate, you want a Democrat of stature to equal all the Republicans that have done crap in the last six years.
NOVAK: I'm completely...
NOVAK: Trent Lott, he was very careful, but I want to tell you somebody who wasn't so careful, and that's Republican Congressman Mark Foley of Florida, and he said what's really at stake. He said "for him," that's Rubin, "to what I believe inappropriately make a call to his former agency in attempt to instruct a professional Treasury official to intervene with the free market system" -- that's on the credit rating -- "to prop up Enron at a very precarious time is a serious, serious issue." What do you say to that?
KAMBER: I would say to Mark Foley the reason he isn't this cautious is because he's not of the capability mentally or verbally as Trent Lott. I mean, that's a ridiculous statement for him to make because who knows what he's saying?
BEGALA: Of course, what's he's saying is he's attacking his own party, because his party, the Republican Party, controls the House of Representatives. They are investigating this. If they wanted Rubin up there, if they thought there was something useful instead of just partisan potshots, he'd be there, wouldn't he?
MAY: I think what we have to stop doing is this kind of smear and scare tactic and sort of say that all public officials are corrupt and all CEOs are corrupt. And I think we have better issues than that we should be running on in both parties. And I think you, in your capacity, and you in your capacity, should be advising people don't simply try to smear politicians and CEOs. Let's have a better election campaign.
NOVAK: That's not realistic because the Democrats are piling on and saying, despite people like Grubman and the guy from ImClone, they're saying that it's only the Republicans at fault.
KAMBER: No, Bob. I think the difference is we're saying that historically, and I think there's no one who will doubt it, including yourself, the Republican Party has been a party that has supported business and big business. The Democratic Party has been a party that's supported working people. We have a problem...
NOVAK: That's a lot of crap.
KAMBER: We have a problem in this country...
KAMBER: That's correct, and they wouldn't succeed without successful business people.
BEGALA: One at a time. Mr. May.
MAY: If you're going to -- you know, I think you should be careful not to be the party that is against free enterprise and thinks...
KAMBER: I'm not.
MAY: ... should come back. You can't be against business and for workers. Workers have to work somewhere.
KAMBER: I didn't say I'm against business. I'm against...
MAY: It sure sounds like it to me.
KAMBER: I'm against crooks that are out there.
MAY: We're all against crooks.
KAMBER: No, we're not.
MAY: Who is not against crooks?
KAMBER: Well, I'd like to have an investigation of our president and vice president to begin with.
BEGALA: That will have to be the last word, and I would too. Thank you very much, Vic Kamber, Democratic consultant, Clifford May, Republican consultant. Thank you for a spirited Friday afternoon debate.
Coming up, a proposal that may leave New Yorkers fuming. It'll have the rest of us, though, breathing a lot easier.
Also, the man behind the lawsuit that seeks to flush away gender inequality.
But next, our "Quote of the Day" from a veteran actor and activist who is in a real life fight of his life.
BEGALA: Welcome back.
Charlton Heston today released a videotaped announcement announcing that he's been diagnosed with symptoms consistent with Alzheimer's Disease. Heston says he will not step down as president of the National Rifle Association, won't cancel his speaking schedule and doesn't want any sympathy. Good for him. Even if he doesn't want sympathy, he's certainly going to get my prayers. And, as we at CROSSFIRE wish him well, Charlton Heston gets our "Quote of the Day."
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CHARLTON HESTON, ACTOR: To an actor, there's no greater loss than the loss of his audience. I can part the Red Sea, but I can't part with you, which is why I won't exclude you from this stage in my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOVAK: Paul, he was a terrific actor. He is a terrific American. He is a man who was active for civil rights and gun rights. And I am in favor of both.
BEGALA: I think he was a little extreme with the NRA, but he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King. He's somebody to admire and my heart goes out to him.
NOVAK: There are new developments in a couple of closely watched trials. Connie Chung has details next in a CNN "News Alert."
Also, on our menu, smoke-free restaurants. And even, believe it, smoke-free bars in New York City?
And we'll see why women all over the country may end up being grateful for the lack of ladies' restrooms at the University of Michigan.
NOVAK: Some 13,000 restaurants and bars in New York City are not covered by the current smoking regulations which call for separate sections for smokers and non-smokers. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a solution: ban smoking completely in all restaurants and bars. Anyone who wants to smoke can go out on the sidewalk, and that will be lots of fun in New York City when winter comes.
Is this a sign of progress or just political correctness? Joining us from the Big Apple are WABC radio talk show host John Gambling and smokers' rights advocate Audrey Silk of the New York City Citizens Lobby Against Smoker Harassment, NYC CLASH for short.
BEGALA: Thank you both for joining us.
Ms. Silk, let me begin by playing a piece of videotape, I'm have to ask you to listen to it, of your mayor, Michael Bloomberg, my favorite Republican these days, here's what he said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLOOMBERG: There's a lot of new scientific evidence that's been released recently says that second-hand smoking is very dangerous. If you are a bartender or a waiter or waitress and work in an establishment where there is smoking, in an eight-hour day, it's the equivalent of you smoking half a pack of cigarettes yourself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEGALA: Ms. Silk, I used to be a bartender. That's how I got through college. Why should you and your friends poison me.
AUDREY SILK, SMOKERS' RIGHTS ADVOCATE: First of all, that is a lie that Mayor Bloomberg is telling.
BEGALA: I was a bartender.
SILK: You know, the Oak Ridge National Laboratories conducted a study where they actually put air monitors on people, on waitstaff, where they followed them in a normal routine of their day, and found they inhaled below the OSHA standards, the permissible standards allowed. It's well below a risk to health. So, these are nothing but Trojan horses to end smoking and using second-hand smoke as a way to do that.
BEGALA: I'm just curious, you have a perfect right to privacy. But have you ever waited tables at a bar or worked as a bartender? Because I have, and I can tell you firsthand there's a lot of pollution there.
NOVAK: You should have kept at it, Paul.
BEGALA: Have you ever done that?
SILK: Well, you didn't have to work there if it bothers you.
BEGALA: Why -- because I had to pay my way through college...
SILK: There are other jobs.
BEGALA: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) didn't have a trust fund, I just had to work for a living. No, I should have the right to work without people polluting my air the way in an office building, people do or in other places of business. SILK: You have a right to work where it is...
BEGALA: Why not, Ms. Silk?
SILK: If it's unpleasant for you, you can work somewhere else. Not every job is conducive to every person. How many people want to be a cop? Do they take the job because it has good benefits?
NOVAK: John Gambling, let me try to see if I can figure this out. New York has always puzzled me, no matter who is the mayor. And you've got a situation where several places you go in town, big restaurants, they have smoking sections and non-smoking sections. I'm a non-smoker. I sit in the non-smoking section. There are other small bars that don't have that regulation.
Why in the world would the mayor say no smoking anywhere? Does that make any sense at all?
JOHN GAMBLING, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, it makes a lot of sense to me. The mayor was on with me this morning at WABC and he and I talked about this. But, Bob, as you know, in those big restaurants where they have smoking and non-smoking sections, you can just as easily be sitting close enough to somebody, the air conditioning can drag the smoke over to you. And you know what? It just stinks.
We can get into the health problems that are caused by second- hand smoke, we can go through all of the details, but it is a quality of life issue that I think is a great idea on the mayor's part to ban it.
NOVAK: I've never had that trouble in New York, but forget about me. What about the small saloon owner -- they still have saloons in New York -- corner saloon who's trying to get by. Let's see what Scott Wexler, the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association says. He says, "we believe that the current law in New York City is working and any further restructuring will cause economic harm to the 10,000 on-premise licensees of bars and taverns in New York City.
Don't you have any sympathy for those small businessmen and entrepreneurs?
GAMBLING: Bob, there is absolutely no statistical evidence that when California banned smoking in bars and restaurants, that it had any impact whatsoever on the clientele and the businesses.
SILK: That's incorrect. Listen to the -- the personal stories, forget about the studies manipulated by people who are pushing this agenda. I have hundreds of stories from bar -- business owners and bar owners and restaurant owners who said they have lost lots of money, had to lay people off. Why in California are businesses that are following the law suing businesses -- bars that are not following the law for stealing their customers if it's such a good idea?
BEGALA: Well, in fact, Ms. Silk, the New York State Restaurant Association has dropped its longstanding opposition to this because most restaurants in New York actually want this bill.
BEGALA: Let me give you one story. You asked for one. Michael O'Neal runs a joint called O'Neal's Lincoln Center Restaurant. I'm going to go there next time I'm in New York, because this is what he says...
SILK: He allows smoking.
BEGALA: "You go to a Yankees game, you can't smoke," he says. "You ride in an airplane to California, you can't smoke. Why do you have to smoke in a restaurant or a bar?" How do you answer Mr. O'Neal, a restaurant owner?
SILK: Exactly, a restaurant owner, a private establishment. It is not a public place. It invites the public to enter. They can refuse the right to serve you. If you do not like the way the atmosphere is in that place, the music, the food they serve, go somewhere else. We're not asking for all of the places to be smoking. We want to have a choice. We're more than happy to have as many non- smoking restaurants or more because there are more non-smokers. But let the owner decide. It's a private place. He pays for it.
NOVAK: That's the point I don't under -- go ahead, Mr. Gambling.
GAMBLING: Well, what I was going to say is the law doesn't allow that restaurant owner to serve poisonous food, tainted food, food with E coli, all of those things.
SILK: The difference there is that people cannot know, and that's why you have the health department to go in and check for those things. But you can put your head in the door, see if there's smoke, decide whether you like it or not and leave or stay.
NOVAK: See, that's the point. John Gambling, I think one of the things we're losing in this country is personal freedom. And, you know, there are people in New York City who like to go into a bar, get the kind of place that you work -- and maybe you should have stayed in that line of work -- and get a drink or maybe two drinks or three drinks and sit there smoking a cigarette.
Now, that may sound obnoxious to a lot of do-gooders, but that's a hell of a nice way to spend the evening. Why should you take that pleasure away from people?
GAMBLING: Bob, I don't know if you're a smoker or not, but if you and I go into the bar together...
NOVAK: I'm not.
GAMBLING: If you and I went into the bar together and you were a smoker, why should I have to sit in there and inhale this obnoxious, deadly...
NOVAK: Go to a different bar. SILK: Exactly. You can leave.
BEGALA: But, Silk, you can't. There's no bars...
I'm sorry. Go ahead, Mr. Gambling.
GAMBLING: I was just going to say, but you can also walk out and have a cigarette on the street. Nobody's telling you you can't smoke a cigarette. They're just telling you you can't do it there.
SILK: But it's not up to us. It's not up to me as the smoker and it's not up to you as the non-smoker to decide these things. And it's not up to the mayor or the government to intrude on private business. They can decide for themselves how to best serve their customers. If 100 percent of them are smoking, then you lose. If 100 percent of them decide on their own to go non-smoking, I lose.
NOVAK: The thing I want to raise with you, Mr. Gambling, is, you know, I think anybody who smokes is really out of his mind. I smoked for years. I only quit -- I just quit only 37 years ago. And -- but I think anybody who smokes is crazy.
But can't we have some personal responsibility in this country? The idea that the second-hand smoke is going to bother you, you don't go to a bar where people are smoking. I don't understand why you have to have this regimentation of big government telling everybody they have to go in lock step.
GAMBLING: There are places everywhere we go where government regulates things. If your neighbor was spraying pesticides that were illegal, you would want them to stop because it was affecting you. It's not any different here with second-hand smoke. I don't think I could have...
SILK: It won't affect you if you leave.
GAMBLING: No, why should I have to leave?
BEGALA: Ms. Silk, with all due respect, why don't you leave? If there's 100 people in a bar and you fire up your Camel, you're poisoning 100 other -- 99 other innocent people, why don't you leave, go outside and smoke your cigarette on the sidewalk? Bars are for drinking.
SILK: I will go somewhere. I will go where the business owner decides that he wants to serve me as a customer and stay out of where the business owner wants to serve you as the customer. Why does it have to be all one way? I can't understand this selfish attitude, this intolerant, sanctimonious, it must be my way or no way. We only want half and half. BEGALA: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) half the air.
GAMBLING: Audrey, you would admit that cigarette smoke contains all sorts of chemicals. I think I read somewhere upwards of 4,000 different chemicals, including asbestos. Now, if asbestos was floating in the air anywhere, a place, people would run 20 miles away when you mention asbestos. Yet, with second-hand smoke, I'm supposed to sit there and suck it in? I don't think I should have to do that.
NOVAK: You see, the funny thing about this is that a few years ago, they had this non-smoking controversy in Montgomery County, big hoity-toity liberal suburban county near the outskirts of Washington. Everybody laughed at Montgomery County.
But New York City, John, you and your father and grandfather have been broadcasting there for 60 years. This is a city that never sleeps, and you say you can't smoke in a bar? Isn't that just getting away from what made New York a great place?
GAMBLING: You know, Bob, where I used to work, you used to be able to smoke in the studios, when I did smoke. I smoked upwards of two packs of cigarettes until about 20 years ago, and nowadays you can't smoke in any building. Why should a restaurant be any different than any other building or any other environment?
SILK: But that's also a law by government. So I don't understand that comparison. Oh, you can't smoke -- yes, because they made a law against it. But I'd like to really read you something. We're talking about smoking...
BEGALA: We have a few seconds, Miss Silk.
SILK: I'm sorry?
BEGALA: We only have a few seconds left.
SILK: OK. Cooking food generates thousands of chemicals. Cooking in preparation of food can also produce chemicals that are rodent carcinogens. Dr Coup himself, scientists at the American Institute of Cancer Research have found that cooking red meat creates compounds found to be powerful cancer causing agents in animals. Why don't we just get rid of the restaurants altogether?
GAMBLING: This is something that is preventable, and approximately a thousand New Yorkers a year would not die because of secondhand smoke if...
SILK: The EPA report that claimed that has been vacated and invalidated.
BEGALA: ...Audrey Silk, thank you very much as well for defending the rights of smokers. Still to come, our "Fireback" segment. A viewer e-mails a suggestion that could end all of Martha Stewart's problems.
But next, the man who went to court to fight for equality in the ladies room. Stay tuned.
BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE, coming to you live from the George Washington University here in beautiful downtown Washington, D.C., where, of course, they have public rest rooms for men and women. So I want to ask the ladies in our audience, how many of you think there are enough facilities for women. No? None of you women do. OK, well.
JOHN BANZHAF, G.W. UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR: How many of you have ever waited in a long line while the men zipped in and zipped out, as it were? Raise your hands. All right.
BEGALA: George Washington University Law Professor John Banzhaf has filed suit, a federal complaint seeking to have a court declare that not providing enough rest rooms for women is a form of sexual discrimination. Its target is the University of Michigan, but if he wins, public places all over the country may have to start providing potty parity. Professor Banzhaf is with us here on CROSSFIRE. Thank you, sir.
BANZHAF: Thank you.
NOVAK: Professor Banzhaf, when I first heard you were going to court on this, I thought it was a joke. But I began thinking about it. You know, I travel on airplanes a lot, and they have unisex wash rooms on airplanes. Now, they usually have just one sitting up there, and the women go in -- I have no idea what takes them so long, they're in there forever,
BANZHAF: Well, I can tell you.
NOVAK: And the men can go in zip-zip. So why -- will you file a suit saying we have to have men's rest rooms on airplanes so I don't have to wait for the women who take forever in there?
BANZHAF: On airplanes both men and women have to wait on the same line. There are actually two doctoral theses on what take women longer in rest rooms longer than men, some that I will explain to you after the show, but basically we know it takes women about twice as long as men.
Most of it is biological but not all of it, and that's why the movement called Potty Parity, sometimes called Squatters' Rights or Rest Room Equity aims at making those lines more equal by providing more... NOVAK: Can't we just speed the women up? Isn't that possible. You know, just so they don't daydream when they get in there?
BANZHAF: Well, it's not daydreaming. You ever seen some of the bars they have -- pointers and setters, there is a difference, and that's part of the problem. Now some people have proposed that we in fact -- some people have argued that men give up their privacy -- now we go in there, we give up our privacy, stand right next to each other, we're quick and we're efficient, we give up our privacy, women should do it also...
BANZHAF: And some woman has actually designed -- ladies, believe it or not, it's culled a urinette or sheinal (ph), and they're in places, in various places around the country. For some reason they've never caught on. Now, there are also several women who've designed -- if I can use the word -- funnel-like devices, and they're designed for good purposes, if you're out hiking...
NOVAK: This show is getting X-rated.
BANZHAF: If you're out hiking, if you're in a foreign country where their toilet facilities are hole-in-the-wall, they're a good idea, but one at least advertises it'll let you use urinals, and you can literally -- their slogan is, "Stand by Your Man." That's not what I'm advocating, but that's out there.
BEGALA: Well, let me bring it a little closer to home, though. This lawsuit, professor of law at George Washington University, where we sit and where they're so gracious to host us here, why are you suing Michigan instead of your own school?
BANZHAF: Well, I'm not actually suing. A woman out in Michigan sued the University of Michigan because of their Hill Auditorium has almost 40 percent more rest room facilities for men than for women at this time, and the women's lines are notoriously long. I joined it, providing some legal citations, pointing out that we now have two U.S. Court of Appeals decisions, both of which involve urination and both of them say that if you have practices, even if they're the same for men and women, if they have a desperate impact, if they burden the women more than the men, then it can constitute sexual harassment.
That's what we're trying to do, make a federal case out of it.
BEGALA: You are. One of your slogans, one of your many quotable quips is, if you can't regulate, litigate. And I'm all for, I love trial lawyers, but why not legislate, why not do -- this is the democratic process. Why doesn't somebody run for office in Michigan and say if you elect me to the legislature, I'll spend your tax money -- most of the tax payers are women -- maybe she'll get elected on that or he'll get elected. Why not leave it to the democratic system?
BANZHAF: I started the Potty Parity movement back in 1990 with an article. We've now got four states, including Virginia, right across the river here, which have Potty Parity laws, and they require two rest room facilities for every one for men.
But the other 40-odd ones do not, so since they take a long time, often the best way to cut through this stuff is you go to court.
NOVAK: Professor Banzhaf, I would like to put something up on the screen.
NOVAK: It's a license plate. Can we put it up there? There it is. that's your license plate. And it says SUE BAS. Is that your wife's name, Sue Bas?
BANZHAF: No, it's actually B-A-S-T, and stands for sue the bastards, and if Virginia ever finds out what it stands for, they'll probably take it away from me.
BEGALA: Oh, my goodness.
NOVAK: Isn't this a case of you are just one of the most litigious men in America. You will sue anybody at the drop of the hat.
BANZHAF: Anytime I see wrongdoing I will sue. I'm an equal opportunity litigator. As you know, I'm one of the few people, who when you had the CROSSFIRE, and you had the liberal and conservative, I got fired by the conservative, I got fired at by the liberal. I go after anybody.
BEGALA: But why go after...
BANZHAF: But this is one thing which is not either liberal or conservative. The women sitting out there, I'm sure the conservatives are just as interested in not standing for peegatory (ph) while they're waiting on those lines.
BEGALA: ... show of hands, are you for the professor Banzhaf here, women?
NOVAK: But just to be serious for just a minute: Isn't that one of the problems with this country, that there's too many lawyers, too many lawsuits, and too many sue-the-bastard people?
BANZHAF: I'm not sure, Bob. But you know, there's a very interesting figure: By the year 2010 there are going to be over 1 million lawyers. By the year 2020 in this country there will be more lawyers than people. And that's a frightening thing to think about.
BEGALA: Why -- let me ask you, we were talking earlier about bars and smoking. Why go after -- you sued about ladies' night. If a bar wants to try -- you know, some of us are kind of ugly, we need the help, we go to a bar, maybe they cut the fee for women, maybe you meet a girl, what's wrong with that? What's the harm?
BANZHAF: It's called sex discrimination.
BEGALA: For women to get free drinks? I'm all for it.
BANZHAF: For any gender to be favored over any other. When we went into Washington...
BEGALA: I bet the men want the women to get free drinks, don't we, guys? We need the help, John.
BANZHAF: They're not all as horny as you.
BEGALA: My grandmother's watching.
BANZHAF: Hang on.
When we went after the dry cleaners because they charge women four times as much as men to launder a shirt, went after barbers because they were charging women more than men for the same basic haircut, everybody thought that was great.
We also have to do it on the other side. If women are getting taken, or if they're getting an economic advantage, that's wrong.
And by the way, that legal action was brought by women because they didn't like the idea that bars were using them as bait to lure men in to perpetuate the stereotype that they had to have somebody buy them a drink, right ladies?
NOVAK: That has to be the last word. Thank you very much, John.
BANZHAF: Thank you sir.
BEGALA: John, thanks a lot.
NOVAK: Next: It's your turn to "Fireback" at us. Paul Begala's comments about the vice president of the United States have at least one e-mailer sending darts.
BEGALA: Welcome back. Time now for "Fireback," where you, the viewer, get to "Fireback" at us.
A lot of e-mail about our discussion about Vice President Cheney yesterday.
Jim S. in Hendersonville, North Carolina writes: "Paul, your stupid comments about Vice President Cheney were unbelievably stupid." Nice vocabulary there, Jim S.
He goes on to say: "He was masterful as secretary of defense under 41, he was masterful as CEO of Halliburton, and you better get used to six more years of his mastery as vice president."
That is a broad, broad vocabulary from Jim S. Masterful, masterful e-mail, Jim.
What Jim S. doesn't understand is you're just playing politics.
The next e-mail's from Carolyn of Vero Beach.
She says: "Bob, I give you my greatest respect that you can keep your sexy, cool demeanor while listening to the Clinton groupie Paul beat up the president at every turn. His drivel is so immature. Thank you for your rational and mature input."
You know, for a very mature guy, it's nice to be called sexy.
But Carolyn, it doesn't help to be sexy when you have to listen night after night to Paul beat up on the president of the United States.
BEGALA: It's just I'm jealous of Novak's sexiness. That's what it is.
Loretta Lehman in Duncannon, PA writes: "Doesn't Martha Stewart realize that if she would just lend President Bush a jet, she would have no legal problems? It worked for ken Lay, it will work for any wealthy American."
Good point, Loretta.
NOVAK: I feel bad about Martha Stewart. I think she's being persecuted by the Congress.
Earl the Pearl of Creve Coeur, Missouri says: "Bob, we would love to see that black Corvette rolled out on the stage with Novak behind the wheel vroom vroom!"
Well I would love to drive my great car here, too, but I don't think the stage is big enough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm Mike Furman (ph) from Bremerton, Washington.
And what's next, banning alcohol from bars?
NOVAK: Well, you're exactly right. If you can't smoke in a bar, what can you do?
BEGALA: Well, no, the argument -- and I believe it -- is that your passive smoke, secondhand smoke, goes from you. Alcohol very rarely, although it has happened to me as a bartender, goes from the customer to the bartender. Usually cigarette smoke does though, and that's a big difference.
Yes sir. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, my name is Brian Crane (ph) from Maryville, Tennessee, and my question is for Paul.
I want to know why you want to investigate President Bush, who's already been cleared by the SEC in the past, when you refused to investigate President Clinton over his many shady wrongdoings.
BEGALA: Maybe you missed the eight years and $80 million of your money Ken Starr spent trying to ruin Bill Clinton's life, brother.
He spent eight years and $80 million to figure out that Clinton liked girls. I could have told him that for free. Good night nurse.
NOVAK: The answer to the question is, he wants to do it because he wants to beat him for election. It's just politics.
BEGALA: ... investigate a guy for having a girlfriend, we should investigate somebody for alleged corporate wrongdoing.
NOVAK: Next question. Go ahead, go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi I'm Greg Robertson, Arlington, Virginia.
I'm curious -- I'm glad to see some of the recent arrests of corporate America, but I'm curious why no arrests of Bush's Enron friends.
NOVAK: Well, I think we ought to put all the businessmen in prison, and then none of you guys would have jobs at all.
BEGALA: The Enron guys should go, and I don't know why they're protecting them.
From the left, I am Paul Begala. Good night for CROSSFIRE.
NOVAK: From the right I'm Robert Novak.
Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.
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Bloomberg Ban Smoking From Bars, Restaurants?; Should Women Get More Restroom Facilities?>