Friday Lightning Round: Debate over fracking

Panel sums up this week's hot topics


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 22, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Every week, viewers vote for your choice online in this, our quick Friday Lightning Round. This week, fracking won with 41 percent of the votes. That is where we start, a big battle between New York and Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania, Charles, is thriving economically, New York not so much. There are concerns environmentally.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: And New York is losing out because of ideological rigidity here. The overwhelming evidence on the fracking technique is that it is benign. Lisa Jackson, the former head of EPA was asked about this about a year-and-a-half ago in Congress, and she said she could not think of a single case where it had any effect on water. Water is the real issue. It has been around 60 years. There is overwhelming evidence that it is safe.

BAIER: Drones -- should drones be flying in U.S.? A question this week. Catherine Herridge did a piece. Juan, what about this -- we don't know much about the administration's drone program.

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: It goes beyond the administration to law enforcement. But the pressure here is law enforcement says it's easy, it's cheaper, they say they can't be armed, so it's not a matter of firing at Americans, but it's simply for surveillance. The problem of course is, it's intrusive and I think a very obvious violation of our privacy.

BAIER: There will be more talk about that.

We're doing winners and losers this week. Fred, you start us out. Winners and losers.

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Winner, Chuck Hagel. He now has enough Republicans and all the Democrats, not one Democrat in the Senate has come out against him, so he will be secretary of defense. The loser is actually Jack Lew who has been nominated for treasury secretary. He has to answer a hundred -- dozens and dozens of more questions, and he will be scrutinized a lot more heavily now that Hagel is getting through.

BAIER: Juan, winners and losers?

WILLIAMS: This is not true in Fred's household, but according to Bloomberg, President Obama's popularity rating – job approval rating is now at 55. And Real Clear Politics has his job approval rating at over 50 percent. For Bloomberg, this is a three-year high. And given all that we are hearing about sequestration, problems with the economy, people, most American don't think the nation is headed in the right direction, it's amazing how popular President Obama is.

In terms of my loser, I think it's human nature this week. It's just been a sad week. Jesse Jackson Jr. admitting that he misused campaign funds for things like Michael Jackson's hat, Elvis memorabilia, a Rolex watch. And then the very sad news about Pete Domenici, the former senator, fathering a child by the daughter of a former Senator Paul Laxalt. It's just one thing that makes you want to cry inside.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Winner "Argo" for best picture. You heard it here last.  It's a consensus pick, I think. The loser, I would agree, Jesse Jackson Jr.  And the tragedy is this. This is a man of great talent, promise, and he sold his soul for a Rolex watch. It doesn't get sadder than that.

BAIER: You guys whipped through that lightning round. I mean, you whipped through it.

KRAUTHAMMER: Let's go back to that argument we were having --


BAIER: I'll never make it to the end of the show.

WILLIAMS: Charles is famous for filibustering.

BAIER: I know.

WILLIAMS: We upset you by finishing early.

BAIER: Early. He finished early.

KRAUTHAMMER: As I said, so much error, so little time.


BAIER: Alright, give it a shot, drones.

BARNES: Drones gives me the willies, these drones, because it's big brother who is watching. The opportunity for misuse is great.

KRAUTHAMMER: Drones ought to be used in Yemen but not over the United States. It's the last thing you want, a drone hovering over your house.  Obviously it's not going to be a weapon. But for looking into your life there is enough of that going on right now.

In extreme cases perhaps, but you probably have to have a judge and court order before you should have a drop over your head.

BAIER: Judge Andrew Napolitano would be proud of you, Charles. All right, thank you, panel. But stay tuned for an update on what seems to have been the top story of the week.

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