Friday Lightning Round: Future of Keystone pipeline

Panel sums up this week's hot topics


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 21, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Each week we ask you to vote online in our Friday Lightning Round poll for your favorite topic. This week you chose the Keystone pipeline. We're back with the panel. Take a listen to the president in a joint news conference with the prime minister of Canada.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I've stated previously there is a process that has been gone through, and I know it's been extensive. And at times, I'm sure Stephen feels it's a little too laborious. But these are how we make these decisions about something that could potentially have a significant impact on America's national economy and our national interest.


BAIER: It has been laborious, five state department studies. We're back with the panel. Charles, is this happening?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think it does happen, of course, because it is so obvious. There are no arguments against it that stand up to any scrutiny. Obama is blocking it on political grounds. What happened in Nebraska is the law that allowed it went around the public service commission, which is apparently unconstitutional in Nebraska. So they are going add about a half year on to the process. But I can't see it being stopped in the end.

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: I think there are arguments against it and the president is under a lot of pressure because of that state department did their environmental impact study on it, but it turns out that the group who did the study has conflicts of interest with Trans-Canada. That's one thing. The EPA has also come to a completely different conclusion, saying that it is much more, that the oil from it, is 17 times more greenhouse gas intensive than regular oil. So I think there are real criticisms of it.  And I think the president is taking those criticisms seriously.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Former secretary of interior, we've had other top Obama administration official suggest that it would not do damage to the environment. This is a political battle. It's always been a political battle. The president is being disingenuous when he suggests that he is an innocent bystander to this bureaucratic process. He is the president of the United States. The executive order gives him the authority to make the decision. Is it in our national interest or isn't it? Make the decision, Mr. President.

BAIER: Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker, a possible 2016 contender, e-mails released from a Wisconsin court indicating that Walker, when he was Milwaukee county executive running for governor, he was copied on some e-mails from county staffers who were apparently working on the gubernatorial campaign while they were working at the office. And it's created quite a stir, but how much of a stir? And what about this, Steve?

HAYES: Not much. This is a fire and a miss. First of all, the investigation that produced these e-mails, prosecutors, many of whom are Democrats, 49 of the prosecutors of the people who work in the district attorney's office are Democrats. The chief investigator is a Democrat. The district attorney is a Democrat -- declined to charge Scott Walker with anything or really go after him, make any suggestions that he had broken the law.

The interesting thing is – all of the left, there was so much excitement and anticipation that this could be another Bridgegate, this could really bring Scott Walker down. It's done nothing of the sort. The lead story on Politico for much of the night last night and this morning was, the Walker scandal snoozer yawns rather than outrage. That's exactly what it is.

BAIER: Kirsten?

POWERS: Yeah, I think it may not be something that's not terribly sexy. But the fact of the matter is at least these e-mails have show that it looks like he may have known about this. If he knew about it, this is illegal. You can't do this. The campaign can't coordinate with the --

BAIER: He wasn't doing it.

POWERS: But the e-mails show that he -- he was on the e-mails sew had to be aware of it. If he is aware his staff is doing something blatantly illegal, I don't see how that's completely irrelevant.


HAYES: There's another e-mail that suggests that he told them not to do it.

POWERS: Or there's reporting that he told them to hold daily conference calls between the campaign and the staff. You can't do that.

BAIER: He is on with Chris Wallace this Sunday, so we will see. Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: These laws are so ridiculous. You going to tell me in the '12 campaign, people who worked in the White House had no interaction whatsoever with people in the Obama campaign? Of course there's a line. You cross it occasionally or you don't. But you think you are going to nail a presidential candidate because he might have known. Obama would have known if anyone was crossing the line. This is Mickey Mouse stuff.

KRAUTHAMMER: Last thing, the FCC dialing back on this study into the newsrooms, with a big statement saying, you know what, we're going to reconsider.

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, any amendment to this is useless. This is an attempt to revive the fairness doctrine. You have to kill it in the crib and then hit it over the head afterwards.

POWERS: Just the power of, I think, various media outlets who expressed outrage over this and exposed this.

BAIER: Not many do. We were one of them.

POWERS: We were. But look, obviously they would have gone forward with it if they could have gotten away with it.

HAYES: It's the kind of thing when you hear it you can't believe that anyone would actually put this idea forward. And yet it is very clear it was put forward and there were steps to implement it, to carry it out. I think it's a good thing that it's done.

BAIER: We will see. We will follow it. We're not done with these folks yet. The panel's winners and losers when we return.

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