The Panel: The Environment's First 100 Days

This partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume panel discussion, April 27, 2001 was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.

SNOW:  Welcome back.  We've got Fred Barnes, executive editor of  The Weekly Standard; Mort Kondracke, who says for once he has something new to
say.  He works for Roll Call.  And we've got our own Jim Angle, senior
White House correspondent for Fox News. 

ANGLE:  So, Mort, what do you've got new to say?

SNOW:  Mort, we're all...

ANGLE:  You're never going to get a better intro than that, Mort, I'll tell you.

SNOW:  Cautious silence is falling over the studio.

FRED BARNES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD:  It better be good, Mort.

MORT KONDRACKE, ROLL CALL:  Well, what's the question?


SNOW:  Let's talk about the first 100 days.  Democrats are running ads against the president.  As a matter of fact, before we get to your pronouncement, we want to provide the right sense of tension.  Let's -- let's broadcast once again an ad the Democrats have been running against George W. Bush in his first 100 days, the arsenic ad. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  May I please have some more arsenic in my water, mommy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  More salmonella in my cheeseburger, please. 

NARRATOR:  George W. Bush tried to roll back protections against arsenic in drinking water and salmonella in school lunches. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey, this is a great place for an oil well and so is this. 

NARRATOR:  Bush is trying to allow oil drilling in Alaska's Natural Wildlife Refuge and even in our national parks. 

George Bush's first 100 days, brought to you by the oil industry, the meat industry, the chemical industry.  The Republicans -- these guys just aren't for us. 



SNOW:  Does anybody here know what -- does anybody here know what the meat industry is?

BARNES:  You know what I like?  I like an ad that is subtle. 


It really -- it doesn't hit you over the head.  It's not demagogic. 


It's subtle, nuanced. 

SNOW:  Engages your brain.

ANGLE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) pumping gas in the Grand Canyon.  I know, right.

SNOW:  Let's you fill in the blanks and draw your own conclusions. 

KONDRACKE:  Yeah.  What are they going to say about the lead and the diesel fuel?

No, the Democrats are, I think, are, you know, overly heavy-handed, needless to say.  That's way over the top.  And I don't think it's going to work. 

I mean, the environment is the one place, though, I think Bush fell down during the first 100 days, the once place where he left his guard down and he got punched in the face.  And it's going to be a long time before he can really catch up.

And every time a decision -- I mean, he's appointed a lot of people who are very libertarian in the Interior Department and elsewhere.  And every time they do something, I think the Sierra Club and everybody else is going to be ready to pounce and try to get headlines because it now fulfills an expectation that Bush has helped create that he is on the side
of the polluters. 

ANGLE:  There is one factual point here, and that is when Democrats say that President Bush has rolled back the new arsenic standards, that is absolutely not true, because the Clinton standard put in at the end of the administration would not take effect until 2005-2006.  So regardless of what the standard is, a new one will not take effect for five years. 

What Bush has done is saying the standard that President Clinton ordered was done with what this administration believes was insufficient science.  They're going back to the National Academy of Sciences, and they have already signaled that they will go to less than 20 parts per billion.  Current standard is 50.  Clinton had put it at 10.  They're going to go
somewhere below 20. 

And that has not yet happened.  The only criticism the Democrats have that may actually hit home is that if this delays things by several months, it might take municipal water systems longer to implement the new regulation and therefore could delay it by a few months.  But nothing has been rolled back. 

BARNES:  The truth is people are not being poisoned by arsenic in the water.  If they were, I don't think even a rogue like Bill Clinton would have allowed the 50 parts per billion standard to last for seven years and 360-plus days in his administration before acting just before leaving office.  We're not being poisoned. 

KONDRACKE:  Well, one -- one theme that you're...


... one theme that you're going to hear from the environmentalists is that what Bush wants to do is erase national standards for air and water -- air and water quality, and start imposing regional standards, so that you'd have one standard in New Jersey where in fact the arsenic standard is five parts per billion, and you'd have something else in New Mexico, and you
wouldn't -- you'd have differing health standards all over the country.  And they think this is a major rollback. 

SNOW:  OK.  We are going to take a break with Fred's assurance that Bill Clinton is not in favor of purple Kool-Aid for everyone. 


And when we return, we're going to talk about Bob Kerrey.  Stay here.

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