Matt Lauer Presses Bill Frist: Aren't You Just Pandering to Conservatives?

On the same morning that Katie Couric was twinkling and giggling over Al Gore in some flowery garden, her co-host Matt Lauer took another senator from Tennessee to task: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Near the end of the interview, Lauer pressed Frist on how "critics" say his choice of legislative issues coming up shows he's "pandering to the conservative base" for a potential presidential campaign:

"Alright let me move on briefly for a second. The House has approved a constitutional amendment to make flag burning illegal and passed a bill to crack down on the practice of minors traveling across state borders to seek an abortion to avoid restrictions in their own state. You've said the Senate will look at those things this year as well as a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Now critics have said there's no chance that any of those things are going to pass and they go a step further and say you are pandering to the conservative base preparing for a run for the presidency in 2008. How do you respond?"

Frist, in a very even-toned politician’s way said they would be addressing important priorities. But Lauer protested: "But in bringing those issues up if, if there's very little chance of them being passed are you, in fact, pandering to the conservative base?"

This is not the kind of interview Hillary Clinton receives on NBC. Al Gore certainly wasn't asked by Couric if he was merely pandering to his left-wing environmental-extremist base with ideas that have no chance of passing in the current Congress. Earlier, Lauer also suggested that prosecuting terror operatives can be a waste of the taxpayer's dime:

"Let me ask you about this Osama Bin Laden audiotape, the third he's released this year. And in it he says that Zacarias Moussaoui the only man the U.S. has prosecuted in connection with the 9/11 attacks had absolutely nothing to do with the plot. In your mind is it possible that the U.S. has wasted a lot of time and money on Moussaoui?"

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