'Special Report' Panel on Obama's Outrage at Rev. Wright and the Dems' Reaction to President Bush's Remarks on Energy Fuel

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from April 29, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The outrageousness of his statements and his performance in the question and answer period yesterday, I think, shocked me. It surprised me.

I cannot prevent him from continuing to make these outrageous remarks, but what I do want him to be very clear about, as well as all of you and the American people, is that when I say I find these comments appalling, I mean it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIT HUME: And what Obama indicated particularly annoyed him about the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's comments here in Washington at the National Press Club yesterday was his assertion that Obama's distancing himself from some of what Wright has said is for political reasons and not something he really meant.

Some thoughts on all this now from Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard, Mara Liasson, National Political Correspondent of National Public Radio, and Mort Kondracke, Executive Editor of Roll Call, FOX News contributors all.

Well, this was a strong criticism, and an about-face, really for Obama on the subject of Reverend Wright. The proximate cause was yesterday's event at the National Press Club. Mort, how well does this do the job of putting Reverend Wright out of the picture?

MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "ROLL CALL": It depends partly on whether Reverend Wright gets out of the bathtub like the famous woman in fatal attraction for the last stabbing.

Anyway — whether he comes back, and continues the controversy. It would not do Obama any good if Wright comes back and starts having a fight with Obama. Obama is supposed to be running for president, not fighting with his pastor.

But the idea that he is shocked, it sort of reminds me of Jimmy Carter being shocked when the Russians invaded Afghanistan way back when. He has been going to this church for 20 years.

And the idea that he doesn't know what Wright stands for and that he's never heard any of this stuff before, never got wind of it before — either he is a total naive, or he has been winking at it because it served him politically to be in that church.

I suppose that the media is going to say, yes, boy, he really socked him — and he did sock him, and it was about time he socked him and he needed to sock him, and he may get away with it. But I'm not convinced that it's the end of the story.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Look, Reverend Wright as a political issue is not going to go away whether or not Reverend Wright himself stays quiet or not. Those statements of his are going to be in ads in the fall no matter what.

But last night, not to toot my own horn, but I said there would be pressure for him to push back, and today he pushed back. And he pushed back as hard as he has in this entire controversy. I think he did make some progress towards marginalizing Wright in his political life.

He laid down some pretty clear markers — his relationship with him has been damaged. He completely disagrees with his statements — the statements about AIDS and the government are ridiculous. I think he was about as strong as he could be.

The problem is that he's got Indiana in just a couple of days, and he's got North Carolina, and I think they are behind in the polls in Indiana. And this has hurt him. I think this is going to help him to some extent, but it's not going to mitigate the damage completely.

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Not to toot my own horn, but I agreed with Mara last night that Obama needed to push back. And he did come close to disowning Reverend Wright in a couple of places where he said our relationship will never be the same and the relationship has changed and so on.

And although I did think it was the straw man that he set up and used many, many times to knock down, and that is the notion that anybody might think that his views were the same as Reverend Wright's. He has never been accused of that. Nobody who ever listens to Obama thinks that those are his views, that all the hate and anti-Americanism of Wright.

But there are a couple of things that I don't think he answered, and, actually, Mort raised at least one of them. Not to toot Mort's horn, but one of them was these statements — all Reverend Wright did over the weekend and Monday in Washington was just to reiterate what he said before.

HUME: Excuse me, he went beyond that and attacked Obama as a mere politician, saying with regard to Reverend Wright's statements what a politician had to say.

(CROSSTALK)

BARNES: That wasn't one of the outrageous statements — that might have irritated Obama, but that was not one of the outrageous —

HUME: The question this raises though is whether that was the proximate cause that got Obama had to do as nothing else could what Obama did today.

BARNES: I don't know what the answer to that question is, but based on what he said and I have to reject these outrageous statements, as Mort said, there was nothing new about them. They have been around for a long time. These were the ones that he reacted to a few weeks ago.

And Obama still hasn't answered the question, how could he sit there for 20 years with Reverend Wright saying all these things —

HUME: And give him a bunch of money.

BARNES: Well, yes, that too, but just listen to this stuff year after year after year — and, like Mort, I find it disingenuous for Obama to suggest that he hadn't heard any of these sermons or about the subject of these sermons.

KONDRACKE: It seems to me that he was furious because, what you said, that Wright had said he was merely political posturing when he denounced him, denounced what he said. That clearly was the last straw for Obama, and he had to say something.

But the idea that he's going to go and have a face to face interview with Kim Jong Il when he has been in this guy's church for 20 years and can't size him up, I think that's naive.

HUME: Thanks for tooting my horn, Mort. There's more horn tooting next. The president's remarks on energy fuel the economy and the Democrat's views on that, all next. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We're going to be building new refineries. But there is no magic wand to wave right now. It took awhile to get into this fix. That's why I told you that if Congress had responded — matter of fact, Congress did pass ANWAR in the late 1990's, but it didn't go forward.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK: ANWAR wouldn't produce a drop of oil in ten years, and it's estimate that if they drilled in ANWAR, in 20 years, it would reduce the price one penny. And that's the president's answer to the oil crisis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUME: So what is ANWAR, you may ask? It is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which is a corner of Alaska, indeed a corner of Alaska and a corner of which would be used for the purpose of crude oil drilling if the president and other Republicans who advocated this proposal were to go through.

You can see the arrow at the top of that little pointing to the map there that a sliver of ocean there would be used.

It has been successfully resisted for years. It is opposed now by all three presidential candidates. The president wants it, and it is now part of the debate on energy. What about it, Fred?

BARNES: Well, look, we have a supply and demand problem. There is a huge demand for oil and there is not enough supplies. So what happens? The price goes up.

There is plenty of oil out there, it is just not being drilled by members of the OPCE cartel because they want to have a high price and they limit how much they produce.

The U.S. can produce a lot of oil. It is very disingenuous for Senator Schumer to point to ANWAR and say see, this is all the president says. This is the only place he is offering where we could get more oil.

The Democrats want no more oil production at all. They're not doing anything. They want to punish the oil companies, not give them incentives or open up places where they can drill for more oil. There is off the Atlantic shore of the U.S., there is off the pacific shore, there is more in the Gulf of Mexico.

Now, look, there are Republicans who don't want to do this as well. I have talked to the governor of Florida about it, Charlie Crisp, and he doesn't even want it 75 miles off the shore of Florida.

I think that's nuts, but the truth is the oil is out there, and a lot of it can be obtained in, I think, in less than ten years. But Democrats are against it, and Republicans cannot overcome them.

Look, if you want to have energy independence —

HUME: John McCain is against ANWAR and the other things, right?

BARNES: Yes, of course.

The U.S. wants to be energy secure if not energy independent, right? Maybe that will happen when we have a hydrogen car sometime. But who knows when that will happen, if ever, whether the science will ever work.

In the meantime it would be so nice to not be dependent on the Iranians and Saudis and people like that by producing our own increased amount of oil. We could do, it but Congress won't let it happen.

LIASSON: In the meantime, you have John McCain and Hillary Clinton who are pushing this gas tax holiday for the summer, which the president is non-committal on. He said he would consider any idea.

But that is the ultimate political pander, which Barack Obama will probably hurt himself by opposing in the Indiana primary.

HUME: Why is it the ultimate political pander?

LIASSON: Because, first of all, it's to lift the gas tax for a period of months. They're not talking about putting price controls on in the meantime. There is nothing that stops the oil companies from raising the price up the exact amount that the tax would be raised.

HUME: Sure there is, because supply and demand.

LIASSON: Well, yes, but if we have a problem with supply and demand, there certainly wouldn't be anything stopping them from raising the price.

HUME: By that theory, they do raise the price forever.

LIASSON: They certainly could, and the price has been going up. I don't know if we're there yet, but, look, the raising the gas tax for a couple months — removing the gas tax for a couple of months is guaranteed to remove 18 cents a gallon and put about $30 in people's pockets.

KONDRACKE: And Obama is exactly correct on this and should make the point that we need highway construction. He's got to make the point, just imagine all the time you waste in traffic because the highway construction is not going at the proper clip and the roads and bridges need to be built, and stuff like. We waste fuel because we don't have an efficient transportation system, and this would inhibit that.

I think that we ought to do absolutely everything that we can possibly do, including drilling in ANWAR.

HUME: But no tax cuts?

KONDRACKE: Not tax cuts — wait a minute, a tax cut for a gasoline tax, as I said, inhibits your ability to build infrastructure, and also protects people against supply and demand. They will drive more if the price goes down.

HUME: They will all drive more if the roads are less congested.

KONDRACKE: Well, that's possibly true, but, nonetheless, if the price is high —

BARNES: The question is it good for Obama to vote for increasing oil production in America? No. Is Hillary? No.

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