'This Week' Transcript: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

The difference is, is that when Democrats identify these problems, they quickly, you know, turn it over to the Ethics Committee and say, let's move. Unlike the Republicans who just waited and waited and waited. But I do believe at the end of the day, we're going to put this behind us and hold these politicians to the highest standards possible.

DOWD: George, does this have more of an effect, it's just a temporary thing, or can this have an effect on the election?

WILL: I think it colors the election. I mean, if people knew about New York -- I like the -- what was it, a New York City councilman billed $177 for a bagel and a soda? There's the assemblywoman who threw scolding coffee in the eyes of her staff member. One guy up there stole from the Little League. That's not good.

Now, does it color this? I think the 1984 (sic) election is often blamed because they didn't pass Hillary's health care plan. Nonsense.

DOWD: 1994.

WILL: '94, sorry. What happened then, 40 years of Democratic control of the House of Representatives ended because the entitlement mentality had become so strong that they had the House banking scandal, and things like that colored the election.

REICH: I find it very, very hard to believe that even the past week is on par with Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff and the moral and ethical turpitude spread over the Republican Party before 2006.

I do think that there is an ethical issue here--

DOWD: Some might say there's still plenty of time.

(CROSSTALK)

REICH: I think it's a bipartisan ethical issue. When the Ethics Committee in the House said recently that it doesn't matter if there are earmarks that look to everyone as if they are payments and paybacks for political campaigns, whether it's Republicans or Democrats getting those earmarks, that, to me, is really offensive. I don't know how you guys feel, but that to me is the biggest moral and ethical problem we have.

(CROSSTALK)

REICH: Why do we have these earmarks?

CLARKE: Neither party has the monopoly on corruption and sleaziness. The Democrats are making a very hard run for it in this last week. I think more interesting is the long-term effects. I think it adds to the cynicism about Washington. It's Washington and they play by different rules and they set up rules for themselves. I think you're going to see more of what happened to Kay Bailey Hutchison and Rick Perry. If you're not from Washington or you can pretend you're not really part of the Washington culture, you're going to do better. And it's sad more than anything else.

DOWD: Well that brings up an interesting spot -- Senator Lincoln in Nebraska -- I mean in Arkansas is in a very tight race in the primary and the general election and she just put a spot on the air, which is an amazing spot for an incumbent to run, which is basically not lauding what she's done in Washington, but stopping what she's done even though she's part of the majority. Let's take a look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is why I voted against giving more money to Wall Street, against the auto company bailout, against the public option health care plan and against the cap and trade bill which would raise energy costs on our kids. None of those were right for Arkansas. Some in my party didn't like it very much. But I approved this message because I don't answer to my party. I answer to Arkansas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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