Talking Points: Airline Security

Hi.  I'm Bill O'Reilly.  Thank you for watching us tonight.

President Bush gave a speech today to some airline workers in Chicago and announced a number of things including that the feds will now pay for National Guard troops to provide airport security.

This undercuts the naysayers who boo me whenever I call for putting the military on the border, which I predict will happen.  The U.S. military is fully capable of stopping illegal aliens and drugs from entering this country, and there's no reason they should not be doing what the Coast Guard has been doing for decades.

Mr. Bush also announced that all kinds of security upgrades for the airlines will be put in place.  But why didn't this happen sooner when the threat was known for years?  That's the subject of this evening's Talking Points memo.

Soon after TWA Flight 800 crashed off the coast of Long Island killing 230, Vice President Al Gore was put in charge of a commission on aviation safety and security.  That was in 1996.

The commission recommended increased security that would have cost the airlines some money.  So the airlines lobbied against those recommendations, which included that no checked bag could be loaded on to the plane unless the passenger actually boarded the flight.  The airline said checking would result in delays.

In the face of the intense pressure, Mr. Gore wrote a letter to the top lobbyist, Carol Hallett, the president of the Air Transport Association of America, saying, quote, "I want to make it very clear that it is not the intent of this administration or of the commission to create a hardship for the air transportation industry."

Now, just days after Mr. Gore's letter went out, the following donations were made to the Democratic National Committee: $265,000 from American Airlines, $120,000 from Delta, $115,000 from United, $87,000 from Northwest.  In all, the airlines gave the Clinton-Gore reelection effort close to $600,000 in the closing days of the '96 campaign, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.

A Gore aide, Elaine Kamarck, has denied any connection between the vice president's letter and the donations that came shortly afterward.  But very little came out of Gore's commission on airline safety and security, and that's a fact.  "Talking Points" knows a quid pro quo when one slaps "Points" in the face, and it's not like the Clinton-Gore never sold consideration for money.  They did it all the time.

But if Gore's commission -- and I say if -- backed away from aggressively pursuing better airport security because money was promised, that is -- well, you supply the adjective.

And that is the memo.

Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

One note before the "Ridiculous Item," The Orange County Register is the latest newspaper to pick up my column, which is now seen in more than 100 papers across the country.  If it is not in your paper, you can call the editorial page editor and politely request it, or you can do absolutely nothing.

On to the "Ridiculous Item," Barbara Streisand says she's taking all the anti Bush stuff off her Web site because of the terror attack.  Well, that's nice.  But isn't it a bit ridiculous for Ms. Streisand, a performer, to have a political bend to her site in the first place?  Just asking.

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