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Interview with David Dreier, Eliot Engel

Aired January 22, 2002 - 19:30   ET



SEN JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: If we enact the entire Bush energy plan, we will find ourselves 20 years from now more dependent on foreign oil than we are today.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I asked the Senate to put aside all the politics and get me a good energy bill.


TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Tonight, fight over an energy plan. And then, the fight before the fight. Is boxing out of control? Should it be banned?

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, CROSSFIRE. On the left, Bill Press. On the right, Tucker Carlson. In the crossfire, Democratic Congressman Elliot Engel of New York, member of the Energy Committee and Republican Congressman David Dreier from California. And later in Atlanta, sports radio talk show host Steak Shapiro. And in Philadelphia, sports psychologist Joel Fish.

CARLSON: Good evening and welcome to CROSSFIRE. If you're a Democrat, you want to force everyone to drive windmill-powered automobiles. If you're a Republican, you wanted to drop an oil rig in every back yard. That's how "The Chicago Tribune" characterized the energy debate, a high volume fight fracas now unfolding against the backdrop of Enron. Cartoonish, yes, but maybe not such a bad guy to each side's position.

President Bush's energy plan emphasizes production. National security, he says, compels America to find more oil here at home. In other words, more drilling in Alaska. The Democrats, meanwhile, tout conservation. A plan introduced today by Senator and probable presidential candidate John Kerry calls for higher fuel efficiency standards, better alternative energy, and increased public transportation. In other words, carpooling. Those are the broad strokes anyway. We'll begin the shading tonight. And to shade, we go to Bill Press.

PRESS: The master.

Congressman Dreier?


PRESS: Seems to me there are -- the heart of this debate is a choice that we've got. Senator Kerry is saying let's look to the future. Let's get independent from fossil fuels by more efficient cars and trucks. Wind energy, solar energy. President Bush is saying, drill, drill, drill, stuck in the past.

Now, you might expect that from an oil man, but why should we as a nation be stuck in the past? Isn't this time to look toward the future toward alternative sources of energy?

DREIER: Well, Bill, you are the master of spin. We all know that. And you have just propounded the most incredible mischaracterization of what it is that President Bush has put forward.

In fact, I would really argue that we know that the sincerest form of flattery is imitation. And if you listened to John Kerry's speech today, I don't want to bring up the memory of a decade ago when one senator who was a presidential candidate took the speech of Neal Kinnick, but frankly, John Kerry's speech today really was an outline of President Bush's energy proposals.

Everything that you just mentioned, Bill, happens to be strongly supported by the president with that one exception, and that, the issue of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And all we're talking about is an area the size of Dulles International Airport. And it is a spot which clearly is very important, as we pursue our goal of obtaining domestic energy.

PRESS: I didn't even talk about Enron. I'm just talking about the basic question.

DREIER: Well, you said drill, drill, drill. You said drill, drill, drill. And...

PRESS: Exactly, that's the heart of his program.

DREIER: Let's look what the president's done already. The president has already, Bill, proposed calling for the federal government to increase its energy conservation. The president's proposed tax credits for people who are going to be moving towards solar biomass and wind, the kinds of things that you've raised.

PRESS: Let's get...

DREIER: So the president has done those specific things in this proposal. And we have as well in the House of Representatives that we passed last August.

PRESS: Hold it, congressman. No, he has not. Let's get specific to what John Kerry proposed today. He said let's take hour car fleet, light trucks, pickup trucks, and by the year 2012, get them up to 40 miles a gallon. They're now today around 23 or 24 miles a gallon.

DREIER: It'd be wonderful if we could do that. PRESS: Wait a minute. By 2020, get them up to 55. You know American technology can do that. You know if we do that, we won't have to import any more oil from Saudi Arabia. Why don't we make that the national priority, instead of ruining Alaska?

DREIER: Bill, you see this as a choice of either or. And that really is silly. The fact of the matter is we can do both. John Kerry acknowledged today that we are going to be relying on oil for the next 30 to 50 years.

But I will say that the president also has said we should move towards hybrid vehicles. He believes that we should move towards alternative sources in the area of transportation. So I mean, I think that you're trying to paint the president in an area that just ain't there. I mean, if you look at his proposal, he's embraced much of what you said, as well as the proposals that we also have passed through the House of Representatives.

PRESS: Yes, but his proposal and Kerry's proposal, it is night and day. One is alternative and the other is...


CARLSON: Let me hit you from the right, Mr. Dreier. Mr. Engel's not here, probably took public transportation. Another reason why people ought to have big gas guzzling cars to get there on time. But listen, one of the interesting but familiar bits of Senator Kerry's energy plan was ethanol, the idea that we're going get gasoline from corn.

Now this is not only a ludicrous idea, but it's been proven a ludicrous idea, year after year, but Republicans as well as Democrats keep pushing it. Why? One reason, Iowa caucuses. When are Republicans going to stand up and say, "This doesn't work, we're not supporting it?"

DREIER: I think that we should try to pursue every possible alternative we can find. And I know that there's a lot of empirical evidence showing that there's a problem with ethanol. But the fact is it doesn't mean that we shouldn't continue pursuing it. It's exactly -- Bill claims that the president is not for any alternative, other than drilling, which is just silly. I mean, that is a...

CARLSON: Wait a second. We should pursue it, but how long have we been pursuing it, giving it subsidies? But if it's not working?

DREIER: Listen, I'm not in support of the subsidies, but I believe that we should continue to pursue any kind of alternative energy source we possibly can, doing it responsibly, and on the drill, drill, drill question, Bill Press, you should know that we should do everything in an environmentally sound way. And guess what? Our Secretary of the Interior, Ms. Norton has clearly pursued that. And so, it's crazy to act as if we somehow want to do this a different way.

PRESS: I hate to pop your bubble, but you cannot drill in a national monument in an environmentally sensitive way.

DREIER: How do you know that?

PRESS: Because I've been around oil drilling a long time. And so have you, David Dreier, in California.

DREIER: You know what? This is 2002.

PRESS: But I want...

DREIER: And the fact is, if you look at rigs of the past, where we've seen problems...

PRESS: Just a second. Slow down.

DREIER: ...that's ancient history, Bill.

PRESS: Slow down. I'd like you to listen to one thing that Senator Kerry said today, which is -- which I think gets right to the heart of why you see the direction that George Bush and Dick Cheney are going in their oil policy. Here's Senator Kerry today.


KERRY: Old thinking, pass through the doors of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue far more easily and often than new thinking. Exxon/Mobil, Enron or Chevron enjoyed an access bonanza at the expense of consumers and state-of-the-art environmental technological manufacturers.


PRESS: Isn't that the point that the key feature of the Bush energy plan is easing regulation?

DREIER: The answer is no.

PRESS: Deregulation's exactly what led to the demise of Enron. That's at the heart. And that's what's wrong with the Bush energy plan.

DREIER: Absolutely not. Oversight is...

PRESS: Enron.

DREIER: Oh, oversight is what's essential in dealing to ensure that another Enron doesn't take place. But the fact of the matter is, this is clearly a mischaracterization of what it is that the president's trying to pursue. Yes, we need to work towards attaining domestic energy self-sufficiency as well as we can. And one of the options is responsibly exploring the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But I mean, you were totally off base to claim that the president is in favor of lifting all of these constraints.

CARLSON: That's exactly right, David Dreier. Amen. I'm glad you're here.; Mr. Engel, thanks for joining us. I think Mr. Dreier makes an excellent point. And one of the reasons we know Republicans are going to win the Anwar debate is because the other side is indefensible. I'm asking, I hope that you can defend it.

The argument for drilling in Anwar, as you know, is national security. We're dependent on foreign oil. Countries that aren't necessarily our allies. This is an opportunity to become less dependent. Balanced against that is the fate of what? The musk oxen or what is exactly the argument against Anwar?

REP. ELIOT ENGEL (D), ENERGY COMMITTEE: Well, the argument again Anwar is the same as it's always been. You have a pristine area, that I think ought to pristine. What really annoys me is that, you know, with the tragedy of September 11, and I come from New York so I feel it as deeply as anybody, this administration is using the tragedy of 9/11 to try to push through everything in Congress through before.

CARLSON: Wait a minute. (INAUDIBLE), I'm talking about Anwar. And you said it was pristine. It's going to be spoiled. But it's a tiny area, we all agree on that. What exactly is the argument against it? I mean, the environmental industry's against it, but what is the...

ENGEL: It's not the environmental industry. You know, I think our energy policy ought to be a balanced energy policy. And we have to put all options on the table and look at all options. But I think that there are other things, conservation and other things that we can do before we go in and mess up a pristine wildlife place in Alaska.

CARLSON: Now wait a second.

DREIER: (INAUDIBLE) and we're not going to be doing that. Frankly, if look at the strong -- 36 Democrats joined in supporting this bill. Many union members were strongly behind this because this is an job creator, as well as working towards attaining domestic energy self-sufficiency very responsibly.

ENGEL: Well, I understand that there are people who are for it. And there are lots of reasons for it, but it doesn't mean you throw the baby out with the bath water.

DREIER: We're not going to do that.

CARLSON: Well, wait a second.


PRESS: Would you drill for oil off the coast -- would you support more drilling for oil off the coast of California?

DREIER: I don't support that, no. I don't support that.

PRESS: All right, but then you agree.

DREIER: But I believe in exploration at one of the greatest reserves that we have in Anwar.

PRESS: Then you agree that there are some places that should be out bounds. So now I want to ask you about Anwar. 95 percent of the Alaskan coast, 95 percent is open for drilling today. 5 percent is his reserve that President Eisenhower created in 1960. Don't you thing the oil companies and you ought to be satisfied with 95 percent, David Dreier?

DREIER: I think that you should look at...

PRESS: What do you want, 100 percent?

DREIER: I think we should look at this amazing potential here that'll help us get towards domestic energy self-sufficiency, which is very, very important.

CARLSON: Now Mr. Engel, I want you to be more specific. I know I keep pressing you, but you're not coming through for me here. You say it's going to hurt this wilderness area. Let me give you one example. Prudhoe Bay, five years ago, there were 19,000 caribou there. There's oil drilling, as you know, there. The environmentalists said, "Ooh, it's going to kill all the caribou." The caribou census in 2000 found 20,000 caribou there.

DREIER: Because of the pipeline.

CARLSON: That may or may not be true, but the fact is it helped the caribou population expand it. What evidence do you have that drilling in this tiny area in Anwar is going to hurt wildlife? And what wildlife?

ENGEL: The fact is what happens in one area is not necessarily going to happen in another area. If we're going to even consider drilling in this area, I think it should be the last consideration on the table, not the first.

CARLSON: Why, that's where the oil is?

ENGEL: Tell me what's wrong with conservation? Tell me what's wrong with...

DREIER: We're for conservation. That's the point of our...

ENGEL: ...trying to find alliterative ways. Trying to find -- use hybrid cars, giving all kinds of tax incentives.

DREIER: We're all for that. And that's exactly what's in the House passed bill that we've gone through.

ENGEL: Let's try that.

DREIER: And I will tell you, the arguments that you're using against this are the same arguments that were used against the pipeline. And look at what happened to the caribou?

ENGEL: Well... DREIER: Who knows? Anwar may create more caribou.

ENGEL: There are lots of things in the energy bill that are good, but drilling in Anwar happens not to be one of them.


PRESS: Less than one-third of 1 percent of the world's oil supply is in Anwar. Less than one-third of 1 percent. And you really think that's the energy to our energy needs? You are ought to lunch.

DREIER: I never said it was the answer.

PRESS: You said it was part of it.

DREIER: OK, thank you.

PRESS: It's not even part of it.

DREIER: OK, thank you, thank you. It is part of the answer. Of course it's part of the answer, even if it's one-third of 1 percent. It's part of the answer in our quest to get there, but the real answer is to make sure that every American has a Carol Press made muffler. That'll help everyone keep warm for the winter.

PRESS: You are shameless on behalf of my wife and the Press family. We thank you for the shameless play.

CARLSON: That and wind power.

DREIER: And wind power.


PRESS: (INAUDIBLE), Congressman Engel, thanks so much for joining us.

ENGEL: Thank you.

PRESS: And coming up next, unlike this polite debate we just had, a different kind of CROSSFIRE today when it got downright ugly between Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis. Hey, if they can't even behave outside the ring, is it time to knock out boxing?


PRESS: CROSSFIRE round 2, but two professional boxers didn't even wait until round one to start sparring today. At a news conference announcing their upcoming title bout, Mike Tyson walked over and began punching out Lennox Lewis's bodyguards. Supporters jumped in on both sides. And the whole thing turned into a brawl, a bad blow to Tyson's image but for the sport of boxing also, no?

It's so violent inside and outside the ring, is it time to put boxing down for the count? Debating that issue now Steak and Fish in Atlanta, radio talk show host Steak Shapiro, in Philadelphia director of the Center for Sports Psychology, Dr. Joel Fish. And in this corner weighing in at 125 pounds, Tucker Carlson.

CARLSON: Thank you, Bill, very much.

Dr. Fish, welcome. Now you've seen this tape. And I hope you didn't fall for what was so clearly a publicity stunt. But let's, so far the sake of argument I'll assume that you didn't. But in any case, boxing, dangerous. You hear that a lot. Is it more dangerous than Nascar racing? Is it more dangerous than college football? Is it more dangerous than driving a cab in a big city?

No, of course not, it just pays more. It's a good thing for poor people. No?

JOEL FISH, SPORTS PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, I disagree from the very start of what you said. To compare boxing to these other sports is like apples and oranges. There's no other sport where the goal of this sport is to knock somebody out, knock them unconscious, damage their brain. Pro-boxing is different than amateur boxing with the light gloves, no headgear. There's no protection for the boxers. In football, in hockey, you've got equipment. You've got rules. The purpose of the sport is not to hurt somebody else. Pro boxing, as it's now set up, needs to be banned because really the whole goal is, in my opinion, somewhat barbaric.

CARLSON: Oh, my word, Mr. Fish, you obviously have never have spoken to a football lineman. Of course the purpose of lots of other professional sports, football, hockey, is to hurt the other guy. That's why people watch, but the point is, pads or no, these sports result in far more deaths than boxing. Nascar is a great example. And again, I refer to you driving a cab, the most dangerous profession in America.

FISH: Well, I disagree with you.

CARLSON: Should we ban it? I mean...

FISH: The percentage of boxers who die is greater than in these other sports. And where do you stop? I mean, Why not go back to the gladiators if the goal is to get entertainment, if it's to get excitement? Why not have a firing squad where the goal is really to shoot somebody? At some point, you have to bottom line where you say we have certain standards for what we call sport. And we have entertainment. In box, pro boxing as it's now constituted, in my opinion, crosses that line.

PRESS: Right, time to throw a few more Christians to the lions, I guess, Tucker.

Steak, down there in Atlanta, Steak Shapiro. First of all, let's just make sure we're all in touch with reality here. I mean, what we saw today, clearly, clearly was contrived. It was a set up. It was a publicity stunt and it worked. Right? I mean, this whole big brawl today was planned ahead of time, wasn't it?

STEAK SHAPIRO, SPORTS RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Bill, I think you started by saying this hurt Mike Tyson's image. That's a difficult thing to do for Mike Tyson. Maybe he did that, but you know, whether or not it was staged or not, Mike Tyson is not a well man. And it may hurt him actually getting this fight done because he's not licensed to fight in Vegas right now. And this isn't going to help his cause.

PRESS: Right.

SHAPIRO: But Mr. Fish is so out of his mind. The notion that there are no rules in boxing, the notion that -- talk to the Philadelphia Eagles, whether or not they want to knock Kurt Warner out of the game this weekend in the NFC championship game.

Football is about punishing your opponent and beating him up. And by the way, boxing is not about damaging the brains. It sounds dramatic, Mr. Fish. That's not the job. It's to out point your opponent and win a boxing match.

Yes, they're gladiators. They're pugilists. So are football players and hockey players. And by the way, boxing, I think, had the seventh most injuries of all the major sports. Football alone had 19 deaths this year. Why don't we cancel the AFC/NFC championship and cancel the Superbowl? And let's go play Tiddlywinks. The American public will enjoy that.

FISH: Steak, there's a big different between amateur boxing and pro boxing. Everything you're talking about is amateur boxing where you have headgear. There, it's a sport, where you're trying to out point the person. You're not trying to finesse them.

If boxing was really interested in promoting everything you're saying, they'd put headgear on these guys, they'd regulate it better from state to state.

SHAPIRO: Ah, come on, Joel.

FISH: There would be standards. Right now, the idea is get to the lowest common denominator. And that's what we have in pro boxing.

SHAPIRO: Joel, why don't you talk about Sugar Sean Mosey? Why did you talk about Roy Jones Junior? Why don't you talk about Evander Holyfield? It's easy to look at Mike Tyson, the freak show, and condemn boxing.

And by the way, the point system is the point system. I don't care if it's amateur of pro boxing. Don't mislead the people. Your job is to out point the opponent. And there are far less injury and death. And come on, outlaw boxing? That's ridiculous.

PRESS: Steak, I just -- before -- on that other question, I want to make sure what you're saying about Mike Tyson. I mean, this is a guy who said to Lennox Lewis the other day. He said, "Lennox Lewis, I'm coming for you. I'm going to rip your heart out. I want to eat your children."


PRESS: I mean, you know, we know he bit part of Evander Holyfield's ear off.


PRESS: He served three years in prison for rape. Now he's up for a license in Nevada. Wouldn't you recommend that the boxing commission deny this guy a license and throw him out of the sport, if you can call it a sport?

SHAPIRO: I certainly wouldn't nominate him for a humanitarian award. And he did make those comments about Lennox Lewis a couple of years ago. Mike Tyson is a sick guy. I mean, there's no question Mike Tyson isn't a stabile individual. And whether or not Vegas decides to grant him a license, I don't know. I would think that if this wasn't staged today, and I'll tell you this, Mike Tyson doesn't want to fight Lennox Lewis, because if want to fight Lennox Lewis, you don't charge the stage and case a melee and then go back to the Vegas commission and say, "See how well adjusted I am? See how stable I am?" That is not the route.

FISH: Now part of the problem...

CARLSON: Now wait, Dr. Fish, let me ask you a question. Hold on.

FISH: Yes.

CARLSON: I guess what bothered me about your comparing professional boxers to gladiators, slaves really, is the implication that they're animals and that they don't have free will, and they're not doing this voluntary, and they're merely puppets of the promoters, their agents or their rangers, that they're not really human beings. When in fact I believe they are human being. And they're choosing to do this. And in fact, they're pretty well remunerated. I mean, can you -- do you think Mike Tyson is going make millions as a software programmer at Microsoft? No. And he's getting millions as a boxer. Amen.

FISH: Mike Tyson is one out of a 1,000 boxers. 999 other boxers aren't going to be cut the breaks he is. The way the promoters set up the sport is such that most boxers get the short end of the stick. The majority of the boxers end up either punch drunk, poor, or with theirs somewhat brain damage.

CARLSON: Oh, that's a lie.

FISH: If Mike Tyson doesn't get license in Nevada, part of the problem with pro boxing now is the way it's regulated. He'll go to another state to try to get a license, until somebody will organize a way for him to fight, so somebody can make money.

CARLSON: Listen to yourself. Hold on.

FISH: 9 times out of 10, the boxer gets the short end of the stick.

SHAPIRO: Oh, come on. CARLSON: Listen to yourself. You're talking about Mike Tyson and other professional boxers as if they were children. You're patronizing them. They're not human beings? Are they not adult human beings?

FISH: I'm talking the opposite. They are human beings. They need better protection. The system is set up now as the boxer isn't protected from promoters, from state legislators. I'm arguing they do need better protection, because they are human beings.

SHAPIRO: Joel...

FISH: And I don't want to see as many boxers end up in the gutter, literally or psychologically, like I've seen in my profession.

SHAPIRO: Oh, come on.

PRESS: Go ahead, Steak.

SHAPIRO: 9 out of 10 boxers suffer some kind of damage? Are you worried about the business taking advantage of them? Ask the guy in Philadelphia, the pro boxer. Now are you going watch out for him, Mr. Fish, and tell him well we want to protect you from yourself and not let you go into the rink because of the dangers. And we're worried about you getting taken advantage of.

It's big shoes to do this. That's what this living is. The coal miner has his risks. So does the police officer. So does the guy working at the fire department, as we know so well. And if the boxer wants to take that risk, don't try to tell America that 9 out of 10 boxers suffer brain damage. There are all walking around bumping into walls.

There are occasions when it happens. Johnny Unitus has bad knees because of playing football. A lot of other guys have professions. Boxing is a sport that is entertaining. You want comedy? Watch professional wrestling. Boxing has great stuff, great story lines. And so what if you get a little entertainment. Take it easy, Mr. Fish.

CARLSON: OK, well, that just about settles it right there. Steak Shapiro.

PRESS: I think we ought to give these guys gloves.

CARLSON: I think we definitely should. Steak Shapiro, Dr. Fish, surf and turf. Thank you both very much. We appreciated having you on.

And next, our picture of the day. Who is this masked woman? Would you recognize her? We'll unveil the photo when we return.


PRESS: Bill and Tucker back with more CROSSFIRE. Before we get to those pictures of the day, this breaking news. CNN's learned that American Taliban fighter John Walker is now en route to the United States. He's expected to arrive at Washington's Dulles Airport tomorrow afternoon. And something tells me you can look for that on CROSSFIRE tomorrow night.

OK, now let's turn to our pictures of the day. We bring you now a couple of the more powerful ones that we saw, starting right now, look at this. Enron documents in shreds. You're going see them as we will walk in. You see that box with all those pieces of paper. These documents were shredded, not by Arthur Andersen accounting firm, but by employees in the Enron headquarters down in Houston. And they were shredded after the Department of Justice and Congress had already begun their investigations. There's even evidence one employee said of evidence of bribes to elected officials in this box.

Tucker, the Enron plot thickens.

CARLSON: You know, Bill, it was a bad day for whoever is doing PR for Enron. This couldn't be worse if there was a gun with smoke coming out. But you know what the irony is?

PRESS: How would you like that job? To be their PR person or their lawyer?

CARLSON: But you know what the sad thing is? These are probably copies of the office football pool. I mean, there's probably nothing in there. But they're shredded and that's what matters.

PRESS: That's what they're hoping, yes.

CARLSON: Very sad for Enron. OK, Now to a happy day. We're going to show you a picture of somebody who used to be in the news quite a bit. Haven't seen her very much often. There is Chelsea Clinton, the former first daughter, looks very nice, full make-over, sitting next to Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna. The only thing that mars this picture, Bill, you know we say with the Clinton, at least they're good parents. And yet she wound up sitting next to Madonna.

PRESS: You know what I say? Look at that Chelsea Clinton. You go, girl. Man, she looks...

CARLSON: Is that what you say? It's hard to imagine you saying you go girl.

PRESS: All right, final item now, in case anybody out there, this is a public service in case you didn't get number 38 down in this morning's "New York Times" crossword puzzle. Yes, what is the name of CNN's highly successful award winning, stimulating, dynamic, fun and exciting debate show? In case you didn't know, we're going tell you. Tucker?

CARLSON: CROSSFIRE. And you know, Bill, I'm glad you brought that up because I was having trouble with a little jumble puzzle in today's "Washington Post." Wondering if you could help me out. And in fact, if you at home are having problems with your puzzles in the newspaper, e-mail He can give you the hints.

PRESS: That's it. From the left, I'm Bill Press. Good night for CROSSFIRE. See you tomorrow night.

CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow night for yet another edition of CROSSFIRE. See you then.




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