Should Top Catholic Church Officials Step Down?; Nuclear Waste Heads West
Aired April 9, 2002 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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 tonight -- more charges against the Catholic church. Is it time for some top church officials to step down?
Going nuclear and heading West. How do you feel about deadly nuclear waste passing through your town?
The raging cajun and the prince of darkness are ready to rumble tonight on CROSSFIRE. From the George Washington University, James Carville and Robert Novak.
ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: Good evening, and welcome to the second week of the new CROSSFIRE coming to you live from the George Washington University in downtown Washington, D.C. Tonight: going nuclear. Nevada's governor has vetoed White House plans to build a nuclear waste dump in his state. Now it's up to Congress to decide. We'll talk to Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada and nuclear industry lobbyist John Sununu, the former White House chief of staff.
First, the Boston Roman Catholic archdiocese takes another blow with molestation allegations against another of its priests. This time lawyers for the alleged victim say they have documents showing church officials knew about the accusations for three decades and did nothing.
Now the calls for Cardinal Bernard Law to resign are louder than ever. How is the church handling the scandal and is changing the rules the answer? Or is this crisis a pretext for advocates of ending the celibacy requirement or allowing women priests.
James, do you know how much practicing Catholics really resent this assault on the Catholic church because of the aberrations of a few priests?
JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Do you understand how much practicing Catholics are humiliated by what has been done about these cardinals that are not stepping in in this? This is what practicing Catholics and non-practicing Catholics...
NOVAK: How do you know?
CARVILLE: Because I come from the oldest of eight children. My whole family is Catholic. I'm not going to go into -- I go to church for sure, but a lot of people that do that know this are embarrassed, and more than that are outraged by this. This is doing great damage to the church. And we need somebody to come it and step in and do something about this.
NOVAK: A lot of people are outraged about the Catholic bashing. Let me tell you that.
CARVILLE: Oh, right. Time to bring on our guests. Tom Roberts is editor of the "National Catholic Report," an independent lay publication reporting on the church. He joins us from Kansas City, Missouri. And Ray Flynn, the former ambassador to the Vatican and also former Mayor of Boston, he is in Bean Town tonight. Please give both of them a warm CROSSFIRE welcome.
CARVILLE: Hello ambassador. How are you tonight?
RAY FLYNN, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE VATICAN: Hi, James. Hi, Bob.
CARVILLE: Good. Two things struck me. Two stories I read today. One was a priest in western Pennsylvania gave a sermon on Easter Sunday saying the church should ordain married people and have women priests. He was summarily moved out of that parish today, which is nine days later.
Then we read about a pedophile priest in Boston who was allowed to continue being a priest for 30 years. As Catholics, shouldn't we be concerned with a church that takes less than nine days to discipline a priest for saying that there ought to be married priests and 30 years to get rid of somebody who is abusing children?
FLYNN: James, the situation that we have in Boston is very, very painful for all of us, Catholics and non-Catholics, but particularly Catholics who love their faith, who love their teaching of Jesus Christ and we feel very, very badly about it of course, and things have to change.
But on this particular situation I don't see how allowing priests to be married would have any kind of effect on the pedophile priests in the Catholic church. The handful of them that there are, this wouldn't solve this problem. These pedophiles shouldn't be in the priesthood. They are sick and should be in a hospital or prison.
CARVILLE: Mr. Ambassador, really, people are sitting out here saying, they discipline a guy, move him out of a parish in nine days because he asked the question whether there should be married priests or not, and we can't get a guy who has been abusing kids out in 30 years. There is something wrong here and something needs to be done about it. I don't doubt your faith and I know that you are a good guy and that you were ambassador and that you were a good mayor and everything else, but this is bringing unbelievable embarrassment to the church. FLYNN: It certainly is, James, and that is what is so painful about it. But in the final analysis, I think we have to look at the Catholic church on balance. Not measure the entire history and extraordinary record of commitment before so many families in our society, not only here in Boston, but across the world, that the Catholic church has been in the forefront of those issues. I don't think we should measure the Catholic church and our faith on the basis of a handful of pedophile priests.
NOVAK: Mr. Roberts, maybe you can explain to me. I look at the statistics. There are very, very few pedophile priests. Studies in -- one study of 250,000 priests found over three years in Chicago found absolutely no instances of it. There is no more incidents of pedophile abuses among Catholic priests than the clergymen of any other denomination or lay people.
Why in the world is there this zeroing in on the Catholic church except it's an exercise in Catholic bashing?
TOM ROBERTS, "NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER": We started covering the story 17 years ago when we noticed a pattern of abuse and cover-up around the country. I think that there are several reasons for why there is such an outrage over this. The first is -- when you keep saying a handful of priests, I really don't know because the Catholic church has not allowed those studies to be done nationwide.
The victims groups that I know about have gathered I think 2,000 names now of priests across the country who have been credibly accused of some form of sexual abuse against children or young men and young women. I think the apology has to be not that there are a few priests but that thousands of priests should not be abusing thousands of kids across the country.
NOVAK: You don't believe a figure of .3 percent involved and you think that is an erroneous figure?
ROBERTS: I don't know. I don't think there's any way to know that. But what I do know, is there has been a regular pattern of abuse and denial about this.
NOVAK: I don't know if...
ROBERTS: The other part of this, the reason there is an outrage is because the Catholic church is a major player in the culture and should be. It's sought a seat at the table. It wants to be invited and should be to congressional hearings to speak out on the great issues of the day.
NOVAK: Let me pick up one thing. There's been a lot of talk about Cardinal Law should resign. This is treating the Cardinal archbishop of Boston like he was the secretary of commerce, like a political appointment. Isn't this something between the cardinal and God and not even reporters for Catholic newspapers to say, you got to quit, mister?
ROBERTS: Well, we've held off on that judgment for quite awhile. I think my sense is that he really has little option here because he's become almost paralyzed as a leader. The credibility of -- his credibility I think is shot and it's a very sad moment. There's a life of great goodness in many respects. He was a giant advocate for people on the margin and for the unborn.
Unfortunately, as part of this system of secrecy and cover-up that I think finally has got to be admitted to. The turning point of this, and this is not just a U.S. problem. I think that also has to be cleared up. We broke a story last year that most people, most in the news have not caught up with yet, and that is a story of widespread abuse of nuns by priests. The reports we had by senior members of religious women's orders focused on Africa, where the problem is exacerbated because of the AIDS crisis. It's happened in Ireland, it has happened in France, it has happened in Australia and Austria.
CARVILLE: You make a very good point, it's not just there, but I want to go to the ambassador a second.
Ambassador, you are in Boston and you know a lot about this. Do you think, regardless of our own opinion, you think Cardinal Law will be archbishop of the diocese of Boston in another month?
FLYNN: I think Cardinal Law will do what he thinks is the best interest of the church, and that decision, James, will ultimately be made by the cardinal in confrontation -- in conversation -- of course with the holy father. That's the vehicle in which those kind of decisions are made.
But I know Cardinal Law. He's a good man. He's done a lot of good for the church, now good for the city. I was mayor of Boston and I know the extraordinary role that the Catholic church provided. When government, in fact, wasn't there, the church was there. So I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the church and I also believe that Cardinal Law will do what is ultimately the best for the Catholic church.
And quite frankly, James, I want to him to stay here so we can implement the changes that are so essential, so necessary, so what happened here in this horrendous situation will never again happen to another innocent, young person.
CARVILLE: What is in the best interest of the church, for Cardinal Law to resign or Cardinal Law to stay? In your opinion, what is in the best interest of the church?
FLYNN: The best interest of the church is for a policy to be implemented so that priests -- pedophile priests will never again be reassigned to any other parish so that they can do the kind of damage that they did that this priest here, Father Shanley, and other people have done.
NOVAK: It isn't a chief political appointment, James. You may not understand that. But I want to ask Mr. Roberts something. You know, when we talked about the celibacy, and I'd like you to hear what the cardinal archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Mahony, had to say about this when he was unjustly accused by some woman of sexual molestation. Let's hear what he said about the whole question of celibacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARDINAL ROGER MAHONY, LOS ANGELES ARCHDIOCESE: I personally don't think there's any connection between child abuse and celibacy. You've got to remember, 90 to 95 percent of the child abuse in our country happens in homes and families, sadly. And it's within families with step-parents and uncles and boyfriends and all kinds of people. And it has nothing to do with celibacy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOVAK: Now, Mr. Roberts, isn't that -- this is not one of the right-wingers. This is somebody that the liberals love, Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles. I went to mass in Los Angeles during the convention. I didn't even know it was a Catholic church, they've jazzed it up so much. And he is saying that celibacy is a major part of the church, isn't he?
ROBERTS: Yes, I have no argument with that. I think celibacy is a wonderful gift. I think there's a reason to discuss whether it should be required of every ordination. And I don't, you know -- whether there's a connection between celibacy and child abuse, I can't make that connection and I don't think any of the experts have. That issue can be argued on its own merits and on other grounds. If it's come to the fore because of this scandal, I think it's good because it's a healthy thing to discuss. The cardinal also at one of his sermons recently said that perhaps those questions should be opened up.
CARVILLE: Ambassador -- excuse me -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) let me ask you, as a good Catholic, there are non-celibate priests in the eastern right of our church, aren't there?
FLYNN: That's right. Yes, that's correct.
CARVILLE: And they are no less a Catholics than we are in the western right?
FLYNN: That's right.
CARVILLE: And there are also Episcopalian priests in the United States who move over to our church and are married, aren't they?
FLYNN: That's correct.
CARVILLE: That's correct. So there's no biblical thing here. This is just some man -- just something made up in Rome, is that correct?
NOVAK: A thousand years ago.
(CROSSTALK) FLYNN: It goes way back, James. And, of course, as Mr. Roberts spoke about, as Cardinal Mahony spoke about, celibacy is a special gift that Christ gives to men so that they can be faithful and have undivided loyalty to their church, into their congregation, not having to share that with their family.
NOVAK: We have to take a break. Coming up next, it's the audience's turn to fire questions at our guests.
And later, our quote of the day. Here's your first hint: He did inhale and he was proud of it. Now his words are coming back to haunt this political rookie. Find out who got his nose out of joint, just ahead.
ANNOUNCER: If you would like to join our studio audience, call 202-994-8CNN or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
CARVILLE: We're back with Tom Roberts, the "National Catholic" reporter, and former ambassador to the Vatican, Ray Flynn. The topic, the sins of the fathers, the priest sex scandal rocking the Catholic church. Is the celibacy rule driving some priests to molest? It's time for the church to ditch the requirement, Bob.
Mr. Ambassador, now we've established that the celibacy rule has the same sort of biblical authority as, say, we couldn't eat meat on Friday when we were kids. I want to ask you, do you think that expanding the pool of priests by allowing women and married priests would also raise the quality of priests?
FLYNN: You know, James, these are issues that I think are ultimately going to be discussed by Catholics all across this country, across the universe, in fact. And I think what the church really needs is another Vatican free, but only this time instead of just religious leaders deciding these issues, bring together faithful lay Catholics as well.
So I would welcome this discussion. I think it's a healthy debate. I have my opinion. People have their own opinion. But, nevertheless, I think it's a healthy discussion, and I only think it can help improve the church and make it even stronger than it is right now.
NOVAK: But some people have a secret agenda, Ray, who want to...
FLYNN: Well, of course. But there's a whole series of issues here, Bob and James, that, you know, perhaps some night we'll talk about. But this isn't just the one issue of celibacy (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
NOVAK: OK. We're going to take a question from the audience, please.
ALEXIS: Hi. My name is Alexis Misenbaum (ph) and I am from Boston. And my question is for Ambassador Flynn. I want to know what Boston is going to do specifically to set an example for other communities?
FLYNN: Well, I think they should implement a policy, and I hope they do, not only Boston, but they certainly can lead the way. And Cardinal Law has already started this with his zero-tolerance proposal.
Never again when a person has been designated or determined to be an abuser of children, a pedophile, whatever, never again will that person be -- will it be decided to reassign that person to another parish, not only in the archdiocese of Boston, but to any parish anywhere. The person who has this sickness -- it's not only a sin, it's not only a sickness, but it's a crime, and there's no place in the priesthood for people who have this level of sickness. They should be in prison or they should be outside of the priesthood, as far as I'm concerned.
CARVILLE: We've got another one regarding this. Young man, what's your question?
CHRIS: My name is Chris Ryan from Fremont, California. I have a question for Tom as well. Should the Vatican -- should the Vatican face charges concerning alleged cover-ups of abuse or do they deserve diplomatic immunity, being that they're a sovereign nation?
NOVAK: Tom Roberts, go ahead.
ROBERTS: I'm not a lawyer, so I wouldn't know where to go with this one. But I think that there's an awful lot of accountability that has to go on right here at home. The systems that Mr. Flynn talked about, that was a discussion that should have been held 15 years ago, and in fact was held.
The problem is that there was a cover-up and these bishops kept on transferring priests, making the problem worse. I just don't know. I don't know the legal ramifications of it or I think the Vatican could be held culpable for priests. On the other hand, I think that the -- some of the defenses used, for example, Cardinal Egan, when he was in Bridgeport, I think his counsel came up with the novel defense that the diocese wasn't liable for priest behavior because they were independent contractors.
CARVILLE: Ambassador Flynn, you are on the ground in Boston and you're very involved in the church. What is the morale among priests in the Boston diocese. Has anyone told you that there are thousands and thousands of really good dedicated priests there. Are they suffering as a result of this?
FLYNN: That's a good question, James. I think that's the central question because getting lost in all of this is the extraordinary commitment that so many priests, not only in Boston, but across the country, faithful priests that have served their community, served the people so well without any looking for fanfare or notoriety. And those are the people who are embarrassed about this whole situation. And again, I think that's the -- those are the priests, the loyal priests, the dedicated priests, that I think a lot of us have a lot of pain for and a lot of love for. So, you're right. That's a very sensitive question. It's a very sensitive issue and I just feel for these good priests.
NOVAK: Thank you very much, Ambassador Ray Flynn. Thank you, Tom Roberts.
Coming up next, the CROSSFIRE "News Alert." James finally bids the independent counsel a fond farewell.
Plus our "Quote of the Day." Here's hint No. 2: Before becoming a big, big city mayor and part of the party establishment, this Republican apparently was the life of a couple of other parties. Find out who he is when we come back.
NOVAK: Now it's time for a look at those stories with a twist that you might not find anywhere but in our CROSSFIRE "News Alert." If you are a regular viewer of CROSSFIRE "News Alert", you'll remember that the Republican governor of Connecticut, John Rowland had a little family problem. His 70-year-old mother, Cerie Rowland, was up in arms over the governor's huge increase in the state cigarette tax, a 61- cent hike. But Cerie has been silent lately. What happened?
Let the governor explain. Quote, "I have bought her silence. It cost me $60 a month more. I buy all her cigarettes. Believe me, it was worth buying her silence on this." Isn't that what politicians always do, buy off voters, even their own mothers? Isn't that right, James?
CARVILLE: I don't know if that means filling them full of cigarettes. That's a pretty interesting story.
When Robert Ray took over Ken Starr's stupid editorial, writers tried to tell their readers he was a fair man and not really a Republican. Mr. Ray made a fool of him in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) when he announced he was running as a Republican for the United States Senate in New Jersey. Well, good-bye and good riddance to Mr. Ray. Today, he announced he's dropping out of the race, citing a lack of money and time and leaving the ignorant editorial writers looking stupid again.
NOVAK: It's a wonderful candidate, I'm sure, he would have been.
If your one of those underprivileged men or woman who has lost financial aid to attend Yale University because you were convicted of drug possession, never fear. Help is on the way. Yale will reimburse the little druggies for the aid they lost under federal law. So much for teaching students responsibility. So much for Yale, the alma mater of the Bush family, obeying the law.
CARVILLE: Time to reveal who said our "Quote of the Day." We first knew him as a media mogul, now he's mayor of a major metropolis. But Michael Bloomberg never intended to be a poster boy for legalizing marijuana. NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, took out this full-page ad in the "New York Times" today. It quotes Bloomberg from last April before he was elected New York mayor. Asked if he ever smoked marijuana, he replied, you bet I did and enjoyed it. And that's our "Quote of the Day." NOVAK: Who was the guy, James, who said that he had smoked it, but he couldn't inhale it, and he didn't enjoy it?
CARVILLE: You know what? I'll give Bloomberg credit. My favorite thing of these politicians is that they experimented with marijuana. What does that mean? They went around in a lab coat and kind of -- whoo, yes, kind of tested their kind of reaction time?
NOVAK: You see, when you are a multi-millionaire, you can say anything you want, isn't that -- well, you would know. You're a multi-millionaire.
CARVILLE: Not as much as you are, Bob.
NOVAK: OK. Still ahead, we'll be going nuclear on CROSSFIRE. Where should waste from our nuclear power plants go? Nevada's governor says, not in my backyard, setting a stage for a showdown with the White House.
And she's the lawyer for a well-convicted terrorist. Now, she's been indicted too. Find out what the government claims she did when we come back.
NOVAK: James, you're surely not one of those liberal bleeding heart liberals, who is worrying about the -- Attorney General Ashcroft and the Justice Department just being too tough on those murders and terrorists who want to kill Americans, are you?
CARVILLE: Well, in many ways I am bleeding heart liberal. But I, you know, I have to wait and see what the lawyers. We got wait to see what the -- if the evidence developed. If these people were actually planning to blow something up, then I think it's justified.
But I tell you, when you start monitoring conversations with lawyers and there are provisions they can do that under federal law, and they assume that it's legal, they better have a case, because if they lose it, they're going to do irreparable damage to this...
NOVAK: In other words, if they somehow violated some of these little rules, you'd just rather that they go ahead and blow up people? Is that it? Is that what you're saying?
CARVILLE: What I'm saying is this, Bob, very clearly. What I'm saying is if they did -- if these people were conspiring to blow something up, I congratulate the Attorney General if that's the case and if they prove it. But if he didn't and he went in there and loses this case, it's going to do irreparable damage. So I hope he has a good case, for all of our sake.
NOVAK: You want it both ways.
CARVILLE: Yes. NOVAK: Round 6 is still ahead when James and I take off our gloves and really duke it out.
But next, it's the state of Nevada versus the White House, going toe to toe in Congress over nuclear waste, a mountain-sized political battle when we come back.
CARVILLE: We're back and we're going nuclear. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn, who's up in nonnuclear arms over a White House plan to build an atomic dump in his state, to get the mountain facility would be the final resting place of all the nation's nuclear waste.
Not in my backyard, says Guinn. He exercised his right and vetoed the plan. Now Congress gets the final say and Guinn and his Congressional delegation are the first to admit they face an uphill battle.
Let's welcome to two of our guests. Both are Republicans. Nevada Senator John Ensign, former White House chief of staff, nuclear energy lobbyist, and CROSSFIRE host, John Sununu.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, James. Nice to see you.
CARVILLE: Welcome back to the set of CROSSFIRE.
NOVAK: Senator Ensign, this may be the end of your political career. Senator Ensign, the Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham, who's a pretty good man, has made some sense on this issue this morning. I'd like to listen to him, please.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPENCER ABRAHAM, ENERGY SECRETARY: Very close to large population centers and water ways all over the country in temporary facilities. That's not the, from a security point of view or an environmental point of view, for us to maintain it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOVAK: So the waste is sitting in the large population centers. And they have this very safe place in Nevada. And the gambling industry says no, we can't have it here because it might upset the high rollers when they throw craps. And it hurts the gamblers. Isn't that what's going on?
SEN. JOHN ENSIGN (R), NEVADA: No, actually, this is the big lie that's been perpetrated by the government. They're saying that all of this waste is going to go from all of these sites all over the country and end up in Nevada. And all the waste will end up there. That's not true. It's a big lie.
As a matter of fact, the waste is going to stay at those sites. Some of it's going to come to Nevada, but a lot of it's going to stay at those sites. So all we're doing is we're building another repository, but the waste is still going to be all over the sites. But the worst thing is, is now it's going to be transported through those major population centers by schools, by churches, through neighborhoods.
NOVAK: Well, this is your strategy that was worked out by the gambling industry and its lobbyists to try to scare the hell out of the American people, isn't it?
ENSIGN: What's the gambling industry have to do with this? This has to do with the people...
NOVAK: Well, they're financing your whole campaign, aren't they?
ENSIGN: No, they're not.
NOVAK: They're not?
ENSIGN: No, they're not. This has to do with the people of the state of Nevada that -- as a matter of fact, our legislature is the one who appropriated the money for it. Our county is coming through. The gaming industry, we went to them and asked them for a little, but it's not even 10 percent of the money.
CARVILLE: Governor, when you ran for governor in New Hampshire, you said that you didn't want nuclear waste to be stored in New Hampshire because it would be bad for tourism?
JOHN SUNUNU, FMR. WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No, that's true. I said I didn't want the site that they had selected, which was in the middle of a university campus, on private property, in the middle of 280,000 people, 12 miles from the state capital in a geological formation that wasn't what they said.
And I said just go back and take a look at the data we've sent you. They looked at the data and they realized it wasn't the right site. But I supported Seabrook, which has temporary storage facilities.
CARVILLE: Why do you want to send nuclear waste to his state, when he's more tourist dependent than New Hampshire is?
SUNUNU: The issue is not tourism.
CARVILLE: It's not?
SUNUNU: The issue is whether the geology ask is right, whether the science is right, whether the site is safe, and whether it's an appropriate place to have...
CARVILLE: Governor, what percent of people in Nevada depend on the tourist industry for a job?
SUNUNU: The issue isn't tourism.
CARVILLE: Well, tell people in Nevada that. SUNUNU: I'm not going to answer the question of tourism. This country has over the last 20 years, put into place under law a process in which the federal government accepted the responsibility to take this waste.
NOVAK: Senator Ensign, there's a lot of funny stuff going on here. And I think you know exactly what's going on. We're going to try to find out. In today's "Washington Post," the very last paragraph, there's a quote by your Republican Governor Kenny Guinn. And we'll put it up on the screen.
He said, "Nevada has never said we don't want it at any cost." Now a lot of people think you are saying, OK, you got your hand out, if you could give us some federal land, if you could give us a few billion dollars by putting a tax on electric bills, if you can pay off the state of Nevada, we'll take your nuclear waste. Is that what's going on?
ENSIGN: No, as a matter of fact, we've said we don't want it at any cost. You know, people, the state of Nevada, he said just the opposite of that. He said yesterday, I was at the speech. He said yesterday the people of the state of Nevada and our safety is not for sale for any price. It is non-negotiable. We are united as Republicans and Democrats to stop Yucca Mountain.
But we're not just against it for Nevadans. We're against it for all Americans, because it's going to be transported through areas. And post-September 11th, we have to think about the transportation.
CARVILLE: Well, I want to go up here. I want to show you both the senator and the governor something here. President Bush said during the campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Al Gore's negative attacks on George Bush, distortions. The truth? Bush and Gore agree. While scientists studied the issue, Bush has pledged to veto any legislation to make Yucca Mountain a temporary nuclear storage facility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARVILLE: Let me...
SUNUNU: Hold on, before you go, let's just calm down here. Before you go, he says...
CARVILLE: I'm going to give you -- that was put on by the Republican Party of Nevada. He said, "I believe in sound science, not politics (UNINTELLIGIBLE) any high level nuclear waste. As president, I would not send nuclear waste to any proposed site, either permanent or (UNINTELLGIBLE), unless it's been deemed scientifically safe." What evidence does he have now that he didn't have in October of 2000? SUNUNU: That statement that you put up there was a quote that said I will not use Nevada as a temporary. We're talking about Yucca Mountain as a permanent.
CARVILLE: What -- he said it was going to be based on science. Governor, answer this question. Answer this question. What science exists today that didn't exist in October?
SUNUNU: You going to give me a chance to finish?
CARVILLE: If you answer the question.
SUNUNU: I will. I just want to separate the two pieces. The quote from the president was relative to temporary sites.
SUNUNU: Now the question is, is there science and technology that says this is the right site? There is $4 billion worth of science and technology that says this is an appropriate site to move into the licensing process. And that's what this is.
NOVAK: You know what, just a minute. You know who said during the campaign that we would rely on safe science? You know who said that?
SUNUNU: That's an Al Gore.
NOVAK: That's an Al Gore quote. So this is just a lot of typical...
CARVILLE: Answer the question. What science is available today that wasn't available in October when they made the pledge?
NOVAK: Oh, you asked that three times.
SUNUNU: This is two different issues. The science is applying to -- the science applies to the permanent site.
NOVAK: Go ahead, senator.
ENSIGN: Here's the problem is that when he made that statement, there were many scientific technical problems still to be answered. Today, as of December, there were 293 scientific technical problems still to be answered before the licensing process went forward.
SUNUNU: No. After...
ENSIGN: Yes. It's before.
SUNUNU: ...to be answered during the licensing process. And there is a difference, senator.
ENSIGN: That is not according to the GAO. SUNUNU: There is a difference.
NOVAK: Can I make a...
SUNUNU: And this is -- wait a minute, now this is part of the misrepresentation that's been taking place on this issue. This site is the result of a procedure supported by eight Secretaries of Energy, four presidents, Republican and Democrat, legislation passed in '82 under a Democratically controlled Congress in which a process for winnowing down was put into place. That process has taken place.
ENSIGN: It's a political process, not a scientific process.
SUNUNU: Both. Politics and science.
CARVILLE: One more chance.
NOVAK: No, go ahead.
CARVILLE: OK, go ahead because you don't answers because you don't want me to ask them. That's why.
NOVAK: Senator, let me ask you this, a straight question. You are a good conservative Republican when you're not carrying the ball for your state's gambling industry. So I admire you. But is...
ENSIGN: You believe in freedom, don't you?
NOVAK: I certainly do.
ENSIGN: There you go.
NOVAK: I sure you know that there has to be in the future, if we're going to have clean energy, we're not going to have total oil reliance, we have a nuclear power industry. The tree huggers don't want the nuclear industry. This is the plan for disposing of the nuclear waste. What is your alternative to this plan?
ENSIGN: Right. I'm glad you asked this. You set us up.
First of all, I believe in nuclear power. I believe it is part of the energy portfolio for the future. This makes nuclear power less viable because it's too expensive. This is a multibillion dollar boondogle. $60 billion, according to government estimates, of what it's going to cost to build Yucca Mountain. That's the equivalent of what it takes for all of our aircraft carriers combined.
The alternative is this. Leave it on site, right where it is, drycast storage. That's maybe $1 billion to $2 billion instead of $60 billion. And then, put some money into research for recycling nuclear waste.
ENSIGN: And that makes nuclear waste more viable -- or nuclear power more viable for the future.
NOVAK: We're out of time. But you don't have the votes in the Senate.
ENSIGN: Yes, we do.
NOVAK: Senator Ensign, thank you very much. Governor Sununu, welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Thank you very much.
OK, still ahead tonight, your chance to fire back at us. But first, Carville and I head into the ring for round 6. No guests. Just the two of us.
NOVAK: It's CROSSFIRE "round 6," Novak versus Carville. No guests, no holds barred.
Tonight's topic, the pig book. The Citizens Against Government Waste put out their annual pig book of how your elected members of Congress are wasting the valuable taxpayers' money. Lois Capps in California got $260,000 for a tattoo removal program, but that's chicken feed compared to the millions and millions by the big barons of pork, Senator Bob Byrd of West Virginia and Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska. One Democrat, one Republican.
CARVILLE: Right, so even. You know, they got -- this book comes up at everything. $20 billion out of a $2 trillion budget. And I'm sure that there's some waste in there and they ought to eliminate it, but this thing compared to one of these tax breaks, where they go by the retroactively did a...
NOVAK: That didn't pass. That didn't pass.
CARVILLE: It passed the House Republicans.
NOVAK: It didn't pass. It's not going into law.
CARVILLE: It passed the House Republicans. And I tell you what, they're going to pay for it in these TV spots to do one of these things. And they come up with this kind of thing here, $20 billion. And I'm sure they got pork and they ought to eliminate it. But there's a lot of government spending that's good. The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Drive. I'm thankful for it.
NOVAK: Since you like pork so much, do you know what the definition of pork is?
CARVILLE: Pork is something that grows on a pig.
NOVAK: No, what is pork?
CARVILLE: He's making it. What I ate for breakfast, bacon.
NOVAK: I don't think you even know what it is. It is these are items that had no hearings, that had no authorization. They were put in by the barons on the appropriations committee. They stuck them in.
CARVILLE: But they got elected people.
NOVAK: They're on the appropriations committee...
CARVILLE: Well, they got elected. OK, they got the people of their state that don't run against them. Bob I'm saying -- I'm not defending some of the things that goes on. I'm saying this is nothing compared to the tax breaks that these people go give, and that you sit there and support every time.
NOVAK: You can't discuss it because you go back to the tax breaks.
CARVILLE: Of course, because the $20 billion. These things will cost us $2 trillion. They've got nothing left in Social Security.
NOVAK: It didn't pass. It didn't pass.
CARVILLE: Yes, right. All right.
CARVILLE: Some of you think I'm beating up our guests. Well, we'll hear from you in the studio audience when we come back with feedback.
NOVAK: Now it's your turn to fire back at us. First up, Pat from Wisconsin. This is Pat Reinke from New Berlin, Wisconsin. "The RNC chairman," that's Governor Racicot, "was constantly being cut off and was now allowed to answer. It was obvious that Begala and Carville used this hour for Bush bashing." I think it is necessary to bring a little courtesy to this program.
CARVILLE: You are, absolutely. You're so courteous to the guests. Absolutely.
What I want to do is I want to show everybody a copy of what happened when I interviewed the Chairman of the Republican Party and the unfair question that I asked him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARVILLE: As Chairman of the Republican Party, do you hope that the courts uphold McCain/Feingold? Or would you like to see it overturned?
MARC RACICOT, RNC CHAIRMAN: Well, I've been all along -- had concerns about whether or not McCain/Feingold actually will do what it represents itself to do.
CARVILLE: Would you like to see the courts uphold it?
RACICOT: Well, you want to make absolutely certain that all its provisions are constitutional. Clearly some of the are. The restrictions upon free speech, I think, are going to be a matter of some scrutiny.
CARVILLE: But what do you, as chairman of the party would you like to see the court uphold? Are you for this or are you against it?
RACICOT: Well, I...
CARVILLE: In Montana, I know in Montana you all talk real plain. You're either for it or against it. Are you for this or against it?
RACICOT: This was not my original version of the bill. I don't think it can do what is represented to the American people to be able to do. It's going to diminish the importance of the parties. And I think the parties are very important about political systems.
CARVILLE: So you're against it?
CARVILLE: OK, thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOVAK: Aren't you ashamed how rude you were to a gentleman?
CARVILLE: He comes this man as an Enron lobbyist. He comes on here asking about Enron lobbyists. He's a shell for the American timber industry. But let me tell you...
CARVILLE: Let me tell you, you come on this show...
CARVILLE: No, sir, I'm going to finish this. You come on this show, you're going to get asked about a matter of public policy. And you know what? All these right wingers can whine, because when you are on CROSSFIRE, you're going to get both sides of it.
NOVAK: Talk about shells.
CARVILLE: Just like Governor Sununu wouldn't answer the question as to what science was -- you people have a problem answering a simple question.
NOVAK: You talk about. Wait a minute. You are a champ. You're (UNINTELLGIBLE).
CARVILLE: You got to be believe it. I am glass.
NOVAK: And I'm an independent. All right. Go ahead. Read it.
CARVILLE: "It's great to watch the show when James is on with you. It reminds me of a mature adult -- you -- trying to explain the realities of life to a spoiled child who can't listen and does nothing but whine -- James." Gene Kominski, Baltimore, Maryland.
NOVAK: Gene Kominski is the first person who I ever heard refer to you as a mature adult. I think your wife told me you're a seven- year old.
CARVILLE: I think he referred to you as the mature adult.
NOVAK: No, you were the one. You missed that.
CARVILLE: No, I'm the whiner. Oh, Gene, I love that.
NOVAK: OK, this is from Bob Kurland in New York City. "The only problem I have is understanding the Ragin' Cajun, James Carville. It would be a great improvement if whenever Mr. Carville speaks, the moving news headlines are replaced with subtitles translating whatever he is saying in English."
Mr, Kurland, you really got it wrong. Nobody wants to know what he's saying.
CARVILLE: Particularly, I tell you who doesn't want to know is these right wingers and people come over here and can't answer a simple question, like when I asked John Sununu -- they don't want it here.
CARVILLE: But everybody knows what it is.
NOVAK: Go ahead, Lee.
CHANEYS: Good evening. I'm Anastasia Chaneys Palm Beach, Florida. And I'd like to know if you believe the Bush administration made the right decision in sending Secretary of State Powell to Israel.
NOVAK: Absolutely. I'm a great admirer of Secretary Powell. It's a very tough job, but I think the idea that the United States is a cheerleader for one side or the other is wrong. I think he's going to be an even-handed broker. And even such a knee-jerk Democrat as James will I think will agree with me.
CARVILLE: Well, Bob, I hope he succeeds. It's awful what's going on over there. I hope he can stop it. He has my best.
NOVAK: Go ahead.
NATHAN: My name is Nathan Hesslink from Clamor, New York. I've already understood attorney-client privilege to be a keystone of our legal system. How can you defend any monitoring between inmates and attorneys?
NOVAK: Ask the relatives of the people who died on September 11 about that. CARVILLE: You know what? That's ludicrous. There is a provision, as I understand it, and I may be wrong, but there's a provision in federal law where these people are notified that their calls are going to be subjected to being listened into. So it -- I don't know all of the facts before I go out and attack the Attorney General, attack the Justice Department, but I'd like to know more than I know now. So I just want to hold off.
But I'm just saying if they did this, and assume that it's legal, I hope that they get the guy because we'll suffer a great deal if he doesn't.
NOVAK: All right, next question.
KIMBERLY: Hi, my name is Kimberly Brownstein from Woolridge, Connecticut. My question is regarding the incidents with the Catholic priests. Do you think that is influencing churchgoers in a negative manner?
NOVAK: I went to a -- unlike James, I went to a dinner of the John Carroll Society in Washington on Friday night. These were practicing Catholics, very dedicated to the church. And they are committed to the church. They are appalled by the behavior of some of these priests. And they're also appalled by some of the bashing of the Catholic church by people who are not Catholics and not practicing Catholics.
CARVILLE: You know what? This is the great canard that somehow or another Bob Novak has decided that he's the spokesperson for the Catholic church in the United States.
NOVAK: I am more than you.
CARVILLE: You're not any more than me. You don't have any more a right to speak on this than I do or anybody else.
CARVILLE: It's not your church. It belongs to the people that are in it. And the people that are in it are supremely embarrassed and outraged by the conduct of Catholic hierarcy.
NOVAK: You said that before. Let's go ahead.
ELISA: Hi, my name's Elisa Price I'm from Vickerfield, California. And I was wondering, as the energy industry and the Bush administration most likely switched their focuses to deal with the Iraqi oil embargo that was announced yesterday, do you think that the Yucca Mountain or any sort of other energy issues will actually stay in focus? Or will they switch it to the oil embargo?
CARVILLE: If the lobbyists from Exxon tell them to keep them in the focus, the administration will do what it always does. It'll follow them. So if you want to get focused (UNINTELLIGIBLE). NOVAK: What it means is that Saddam Hussein cutting off oil and other people threatening to. We got to drill in Alaska and not worry so much about the fuzzy animals. OK, say good-bye.
CARVILLE: All right, from the left, I'm James Carville. Good night from CROSSFIRE.
NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak. Join us next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE!
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com
Waste Heads West>