This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 16, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: "On the Record" is live in Wasilla, Alaska. And for the next three days, you are taking a journey so far away from home. Former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, are taking us deep into Alaska for the inside story about oil drilling in the United States. Now, since the BP disaster, there is more attention than ever on energy and oil drilling. But the next three nights, you get the real story about the 1002 area of ANWR, a sliver of land that has become the focus of drilling debate and could hold enormous amounts of oil.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: So we flew over ANWR. And how far are we from ANWR now?
TODD PALIN, HUSBAND OF SARAH PALIN: We're just about 10 miles west of ANWR. It's on the other side of the Canyon (ph) River over here.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Todd, it struck me that it's quite flat and there's not a lot of -- I didn't see a lot of animal life or anything. How far south is it like this? What's the terrain like?
TODD PALIN: (INAUDIBLE) many miles south before we get into the mountain range, as you can see, and so when you see pictures of ANWR in the mountains and moose, I don't see that anywhere here or to the north of us.
SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: You can look about 60 miles south and still see what we're seeing right now. So yes, as Todd's suggesting, the fund-raiser pictures and the Web sites that show waterfalls and moose and mountain ranges and Dahl sheep climbing along shell (ph) -- that's not the real ANWR.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there anything to ANWR besides this flat that we've seen? I mean, have we seen pretty much a representation of ANWR?
TODD PALIN: Pretty much, on our flight down here from Prudhoe, down here to (INAUDIBLE) hunting camp, yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: So what about animal life? Have we seen any animals since we've been here?
TODD PALIN: Saw about five caribou when we were landing. There's a caribou across the runway here. But there's plenty of caribou around here normally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin joins us live. And I should say, what a spectacular view tonight.
PALIN: It is beautiful. Every day, we get to look at this.
VAN SUSTEREN: This is a great state. But we had a rather rough start this morning.
PALIN: Weather changes everything and weather dictates your activities and what you can participate in. Weather came in and we had to delay some takeoffs.
VAN SUSTEREN: Weather came in. We had a -- we had a -- we flew Wasilla, had to abort that landing. Then we flew to Palmer (ph), had to abort that landing. Then we had to fly back to Anchorage.
PALIN: Yes. You got to remember Mother Nature wins up here, and you don't mess around. When she says you're not going to fly because the weather's bad, you believe her and then you take your time, do it right maybe the next time.
VAN SUSTEREN: So anyway, we finally did get going. We flew all the way to Prudhoe Bay, to ANWR. About how far is that from Anchorage?
PALIN: Oh, about 800 miles we flew today, up above the Arctic Circle, landed in Prudhoe Bay, and then we took another flight right over ANWR and landed on the border there.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's interesting. I had expected it to be different. I mean, it was -- it was flat as could be and there was nothing there.
PALIN: Yes, everybody expects it to be different because they believe extreme environmentalist fund-raiser posters and Web sites that want you to believe that it is this pristine, mountainous, flowing with rivers and waterfalls and lots of wildlife up there. When we're talking about the 1002 area that is needed for oil development, it is a tiny little footprint in a very remote are that is pretty much uninhabited, that is flat. And some people refer to it as basically a wasteland.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, let me -- let's -- let me compare for a second, though. If -- right now, there's drilling in Prudhoe Bay...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... in that area. That -- that's actively going on. That is on -- that's onshore.
VAN SUSTEREN: And then there's some offshore.
VAN SUSTEREN: But different from the Gulf of Mexico in that it's not very deep.
PALIN: Oh, different -- way different than the Gulf of Mexico, where those are unprecedented areas that they're drilling in, miles and miles under water, far offshore. No, Alaska is engaged aggressively and very responsibly in the onshore and shallow water off.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are you totally in favor of any offshore drilling?
PALIN: I am in favor of offshore drilling, but the gulf certainly has taught us some lessons. There has got to be more contingency plans in plans. There's got to be greater oversight of the developments out there. We know that here in Alaska, especially with onshore, though, we can do it right. And we've proven that for decades now that we can do it right. It makes absolutely no sense that Congress, that the feds won't let us drill more onshore domestically when we see what can happen in these deep offshore, unprecedented areas.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now, I actually -- I confess I was surprised by it. I was expecting to see something very different than I did. But I'm curious, have -- is anyone in the congressional delegation, or senators or members of Congress from Alaska in the last 5, 10, 15, 20 years from Alaska, Democrat, Republican, opposed to drilling in ANWR?
PALIN: No. Our congressional delegates have been very much in favor of it. However, those that have represented the Democrat Party -- and one of our senators does represent the Democrat Party -- but he isn't getting anywhere because his Democrat colleagues will have nothing to do with the safe, responsible domestic drilling that can take place in Alaska.
VAN SUSTEREN: But he's in favor of it.
PALIN: He is in favor of it.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now, in terms of those who are opposed to it in Congress -- let me back up (INAUDIBLE) Have you seen any others -- have any others from other states been up here and taken a look at it?
PALIN: Yes. House Speaker Boehner has been up here, Michele Bachmann. Quite a few of the Republicans have come up here, wanting to see for themselves so they can make decisions that aren't based on politics but are based on the science involved in drilling. They've been up here.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Because, you know, it makes a difference to me seeing it, and so I think whether someone's for it or against it who makes the decision in Congress, it certainly would help to have someone come up and just take a look at it.
PALIN: Absolutely. I mean, you make your informed decisions when you're there. You're on the ground. You're actually seeing what it is that you've been led to believe.
VAN SUSTEREN: And it's sort of interesting. Now we're the victims of rain in -- down in southern Alaska right now. It's raining on us!
PALIN: Yes. Yes. It's not snowing yet!
VAN SUSTEREN: ... actually quite beautiful in ANWR. There was sun. It was warm. We took off our jackets. The weather was so different there today.
PALIN: It was relatively warm today. Keep in mind, nine months out of the year, it is pretty much frozen solid. It's dark 24 hours a day for three of those months. It is -- it's just bathed in pure white snow and ice for nine months out of the year.
VAN SUSTEREN: How much oil is in ANWR? Do we know?
PALIN: There are billions of barrels in ANWR. The reservoirs have proven to be quite rich. However, all the details about the amounts in there, they're locked up in a couple of federal agencies and state agencies offices where the oil companies have those confidential pieces of information. The public isn't privy to all that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it seems to me when making a decision about whether to drill in ANWR, we need to make a decision about whether we need the oil, how much is there, to what extent it matters to national security, whether there's a secure -- a safety risk, you know, whether (INAUDIBLE) spill and how it will affect the animals, right? Is there anything else to consider?
PALIN: No question at all that we do need the oil -- we can answer each one of those questions absolutely -- instead of relying on foreign sources of energy. Alaska used to contribute -- about one in every four barrels of oil that was provided to the U.S., Alaska used to produce that. Now we're down to about one in every six barrels, and America's becoming more and more dependent on foreign sources. And yet Warehouse (ph) (INAUDIBLE) North Slope and in ANWR and NPRA are those rich resources in hydrocarbons.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do we have a sense of how much oil is left in the Prudhoe Bay area that's now being drilled?
PALIN: There are still billions of barrels up in Prudhoe, and new technology is allowing safer, more -- more extraction than had ever been expected 30 years ago, when Prudhoe was first developed. So there's a lot more oil still up there. However, our pipeline is diminishing in amount of that flow that's going to the rest of the U.S. We need more oil in there. The only way we do that is for the feds to allow unlocking of the lands that they have chosen to lock up.
VAN SUSTEREN: Unless the oil companies aren't drilling and somehow withholding on the amount of oil that's going through, which, of course, affects the supply, which affects the price, which affects the bottom line for corporations.
PALIN: And that's always the great political debate, is whether the oil companies -- the big oil companies are warehousing the resource or not. What we've done here in Alaska is trying to hold them accountable, saying, If you hold leases up here, you must develop those leases. And if you can't, if you don't want to, then we're going to go out there and rebid. That's why we took Exxon to court and that's why my administration -- we essentially played hardball with big oil to get them to produce.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so what should make us trust the oil companies? I mean, because -- not to say that they're bad, horrible people, but their -- their interest is in making money...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... making profits, corporation. And you've got MMS, which is the Department of Interior's division which is supposed to police them, which has now been redesigned and renamed. But so what should -- why should we even feel -- why should we feel even good about corporations and trust what they have to say when it comes to oil drilling?
PALIN: Well, when it comes to oil drilling, these corporations are looking out for their bottom lines. Their CEOs are doing what a CEO is tasked to do. That's -- you look out for your shareholders' interests. Well, a government agency, a state government that's overseeing some of this development, like here in Alaska, the CEO's job there, just like our president as a CEO, his job is to look out for his shareholders, that being the people that he is serving.
So you've got some healthy conflict. You've got some good debate that can go back and forth between the appropriate government regulation that is needed and the oil companies and their seeking of a strong bottom line and holding each other accountable. There's an appropriate role that a government needs to play in oversight.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I'm not suggesting a political stunt or anything, but just on the straight up and up, I take it if President Obama would come up here and just take a look for himself (INAUDIBLE) you'd be happy to escort him around, take a look at ANWR and that area.
PALIN: Absolutely. And if President Obama chooses not come up to Alaska before he continues to make these decisions on locking up more land in America, not just Alaska, I will be even more disappointed in him and his administration, along with a whole lot of other Americans expressing our disappointment that he will not at least make the effort to come up here. So yes, we want him to come up here and see it.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. And we're going to -- we're going to do -- we're going to show the viewers a lot of the video from our trip. We're going to go down to Valdez, as well. It's where the pipeline empties out. We're going to do that tomorrow. But we're going to talk -- they're going to hear about things about whether or not the pipe is -- is corroding and all sorts of the other interesting aspects of this because it certainly has a lot to do with national security.
PALIN: Hugely has to do with national security, jobs, and economic stability for our nation.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. If you'll just stand by for a moment? We have much more with Governor Palin. We are live in Wasilla, Alaska, and that's all coming up.
Next, Governor Palin goes "On the Record" about the exploding Ground Zero mosque controversy. Did President Obama divide the country or is he showing strong leadership? Governor Palin next.
VAN SUSTEREN: We're back live in Wasilla, Alaska, with former governor Sarah Palin. And once again, President Obama has put himself in the middle of a controversy, this time over the planned mosque near Ground Zero in New York. Now, on Friday, President Obama came out strong in defense of Muslims building that mosque. Then Saturday, when things seemed to get a bit heated, the president clarified his statement, saying he would not comment on the wisdom on the decision to build a mosque there. Governor Palin?
PALIN: Well, you know, it sounds cliched to say that the president is disconnected from the American people on this issue, but how else do you describe it? He just doesn't get it, that this is an insensitive move on the part of those Muslims who want to build that mosque in this location. It feels like a stab in the heart to, collectively, Americans who still have that lingering pain from 9/11.
VAN SUSTEREN: So but where do you divide the line? Because you've got the 1st -- you know, they do have a -- there is a 1st Amendment to practice your religion. But the American people overwhelmingly say, well, you know, while they recognize the right, they just don't want the right exercised there.
PALIN: Well, exactly. And nobody argues that that freedom of religion that the Muslims have to build that mosque somewhere. However, there are 100 mosques already in New York. To choose and be so adamant about this exact location just a block or two away from 9/11, again, is that knife, it feels like. Now, if the purpose of this mosque, as we are lead to believe, is to create this tolerant environment, to avoid anything like a 9/11 ever repeating, you have to ask why didn't one of those 100 mosques already accomplish such a thing, allowing that tolerance and that acceptance of differing views? So I don't buy into that reason, that that's the purpose of this location being chosen.
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm curious what the sort of political effect will be because the statement the president made was not one that was sort of, you know, off-the-cuff, when he got sort of caught walking in some place and some reporter throws a question. He actually -- you know, he thought about it. He made a statement at a public dinner. So there must have been some discussion about it.
PALIN: There had to have been discussion about it. It had to have been a deliberative and well thought-out comment that he had made and then had to kind of clarify it the next morning. You know why he had to do such a thing, Greta? You twittered right after he had made that comment. You must have got your information from the press pool or something. You twittered that night, on a Friday night after he gave that comment to the Muslim community as he was celebrating the holy month of Ramadan in the Islamic community there in the White House -- you twittered what he had said.
And there across the Internet then, the ensuing explosion based on his comment -- I have not seen such a thing in the political debate and discourse in this country in quite some time. The next morning, he realized then, I think, Whoops, I better backtrack a little bit, and that's what he did the next morning.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I can't wholly take credit for it because what happens is, is that we get the White House press pool reports that come across the BlackBerry, and it happened late Friday night. And as luck would have it, I'm one of the -- I'm the late anchor. And so the minute that I got it, I just duped it onto Twitter and to GretaWire and people picked it up.
PALIN: And once you did, once people picked it up, though, we were appalled! We -- we were -- it was shocking because this leader of the free world has such power in his words. He should utilize that power in the words to represent the will of the people and not underestimate the wisdom of the people in America. And the overwhelming majority of Americans right now are saying, Mr. President, no, this hurts. This is a slap to those innocent victims who were murdered that day on 9/11. Build the mosque. Build it somewhere. Join the other 100 mosques that are already there in New York, but somewhere else that's less offensive and less provoking of more pain and -- and anger.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, it's going to have political ramifications because we -- already Senator Harry Reid is disagreeing with the president, heading for the hills on it may be -- might be sort of a flip way to say it. But there's the political ramifications, and then there's also the real substantive problems (INAUDIBLE) What should the president do to try to sort of heal the wound? Because there is a wound in this country between many Muslims -- not all of them -- and many Americans -- not all of them -- with Muslims. I mean, how can we at least make some effort to fix this, put this fire out, rather than fuel it?
PALIN: Well, what the president seems to be suggesting is that everybody needs to be so tolerant of others' beliefs. That is fine. Then let him take that lesson and try to apply it to the debate on the other side if you were right now and talk to that imam, those others who want to build and choose that precise location for their mosque that is so offensive to so many people, and ask them to be tolerant. Ask them to understand America's feelings on this. And see if then the president can use some of his influence in a more positive, less divisive way. That's one way that he can help bridge this divide.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I think it certainly says the president doesn't pay attention to polls because I think (INAUDIBLE) American people overwhelmingly are opposed to it. I mean, I think the numbers -- I haven't seen the numbers today because I've been on the road with you -- actually, up in the air with you. But I haven't seen the numbers, but he certainly - - I mean, he's making decisions independent of the polls.
PALIN: No, I don't believe that.
VAN SUSTEREN: You don't believe it?
PALIN: I believe that's why he made his comment Friday night. He knew immediately because his advisers told him, You went too far on this. So the next morning, he tried to backtrack that. And now, curiously, he's not coming out and saying -- we want to know -- Mr. President, we have a right to know. What's your position on this? Again, we all know that there is that 1st Amendment right to build a church, a mosque where they want to, if it's legally appropriate. But what is your position on this? Should they? Do you support it? And we don't have the answer from him.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, if he wants to come to "On the Record," we'd be happy to ask him those questions.
PALIN: I hope he does!
VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, Governor, as always, thank you. And (INAUDIBLE) look at this beautiful yard that she has here. And we're going to have much more with Governor Palin. You don't want to miss "On the Record" tomorrow and Wednesday. Governor Palin and her husband, Todd, are taking you to heart of Alaska so you can actually see for yourself this land, this ANWR area, this battle ground of the oil drilling war, make your own decision. We'll be back here tomorrow night and Wednesday night at 10:00 PM Eastern. We want you back here.