Can We Trust the Polls?

Can we trust the polls? That's the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."

A new CBS News poll shows President Bush's job approval rating at its lowest level ever, 34 percent. That is because of the continuing chaos in Iraq, the port controversy, and Dick Cheney's accident. The feeling among many Americans is that the president does not have a handle on difficult situations.

While all administrations go up and down in the polls, Mr. Bush is still allowing his enemies to define his policies. And the president is too slow to explain complicated matters like the port deal.

I mean, I'm still getting mail saying the Emirates is going to run port security in the USA. Some people actually believe that. Last night on Jay Leno, Colin Powell had this to say:


COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, of which it is a part, have been friends of ours. They've been very supportive of us. Hundreds of American naval ships go through those ports all the time. They supported us in Desert Storm when I was chairman some years ago, and they're supporting us now.


O'REILLY: All right. So in this age of spin and deceit, President Bush still does not realize that he must sell his programs, just like General Powell did, and quell controversies with facts. Otherwise, Mr. Bush will be demonized by the hate Bush press, and his image will suffer as it is suffering now.

Look, I know what I'm talking about here. Every day of my life I get smeared and lied about by bad people. But I have a pulpit. I can make my case directly to you and expose these frauds. The president has a pulpit, too, but he doesn't use it very often.

I will give you one more example of how polls can deceive you and how explanations are needed. The New York Times asks this question in a poll: Would you favor or oppose an increased federal tax on gasoline? Well, 85 percent of Americans oppose, just 12 percent favor. Then The Times asked what if the increased tax on gasoline would reduce the USA's dependence on foreign oil. Well, 55 percent then favor the tax, 37 percent opposed. Quick turn around.

But what the poll fails to tell Americans is that any tax hike on gasoline would cause a price rise on almost every other product you buy, including food and clothing, because all products must be driven to the market. The higher field costs would be passed on to the consumer: you. That would most likely lead to inflation and a severe recession. So much for the dopey poll question.

Now the port situation is very complicated as well. Most Americans only heard the simplistic fear that Arabs would get inside our tent. The bigger picture of alienating crucial allies was left to me and a few others to explain. So where was President Bush on this in the beginning? Once again, Mr. Bush has to anticipate problems and explain complicated issues directly to you. He has not been doing that. His approval rating stands at 34 percent.

That is "The Memo."

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

The ratings for the first two months of 2006 are in, and despite the Olympics on NBC, "The Factor" continues to wipe out the competition. We thank you very much.

In total viewers, we beat our closest competition, CNN, by more than 260 percent. Over at MSNBC things are desperate. We beat MSNBC by an astounding 500 percent and CNBC by more than double that.

Key demos, we beat the NBC people by 206 percent and 511 percent, respectively.

Apparently, NBC's advertising how well it's doing in the world of cable news. So you can make a call about their honesty, as they are dead last in the 8 p.m. time slot.

Also, NBC continues to cheap shot FOX News on a daily basis, which is why I'm even telling you about this. Their executives, Bob Wright and Jeff Zucker, might want to rethink all those cheap shots they're allowing and improve their programming, which is going down the drain on the network as well.

So some might say it's ridiculous. I say it is karma.

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