During Tour of Facility
Cecil I. Walker Machinery Company
Powertrain and Engine Rebuild Facility
Belle, West Virginia
January 22, 2002
12:40 P.M. EST
QUESTION: Mr. President, do you think the Enron investigation will become a distraction
for Congress and, by extension, your goals?
THE PRESIDENT: No.
QUESTION: Is the attack in Calcutta an attack on America? Was the attack in Calcutta
an attack on our country?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we're gathering more information about it, to find out
exactly what the facts are. Terror is terror, however -- it doesn't matter whether
it's an attack on us or an attack on other people. You've got to work together
to fight off terrorists.
For your question, I believe Congress knows what it needs to do. It needs to
fund the war; it needs to fund homeland security; it needs to work on ways to
create jobs. And I'm confident that all the facts will come out on Enron. And
I'm also confident that if Congress has the right attitude, we can get a lot
done. We need an energy policy, a trade policy. So I'm going to keep talking
about it until we get it done.
QUESTION: Do you worry that Enron creates a negative perception about you or your policies?
THE PRESIDENT: Our administration has done the exact right thing. There has
been a couple of contacts with people in my Cabinet. And my Cabinet officers
said, no help here. And we're starting an investigation before anybody started
paying attention to Enron. Last December, Elaine Chao started an investigation
of pensions. And I'm absolutely confident the American people know that my administration
has acted the right way.
What I'm outraged about is that shareholders and employees didn't know all the
facts about Enron. My own mother-in-law bought stock last summer, and it's not
worth anything now. If she had known all the facts, I don't know what her decision
would have been made, but she didn't know all the facts. And a lot of shareholders
didn't know all the facts. And that's wrong.
And so our government must do something about it; must make sure that the accounting
practices that have been going on for quite a while are addressed; make sure
there's full disclosure and the corporate government's issues are wide open
for everybody to understand.
If Congress is going to do its business, and should -- the Congress also needs
to stay focused on the American people. We're running a war. We've got to make
sure our homeland is secure. And we've got to make sure people can find work.
And we'll take care of our business.
QUESTION: -- call the information about meetings between the Vice President and Enron
and energy policy, just to get it out --
THE PRESIDENT: If somebody has got an accusation about some wrongdoing, just
let me know. It's like when I talked with Don Evans and O'Neill, they told me
they had spoke to Enron. I said, tell the people what you did. And if there's
any accusations, if you've got anything on your mind -- the energy report should
speak for itself. We laid out the energy report, it's fully disclosed. People
now know that we need an energy plan based upon conservation and increasing
supplies and better transmission of energy. And there's no better place to talk
about energy than right here in West Virginia, which is an energy dependent
QUESTION: The West Virginia coal miners, sir, what do you say to --
THE PRESIDENT: My answer is that with a comprehensive energy plan, they're going
to be able to find work. And we need an energy plan. And there are ways to have
coal exploration and coal development with a sensitivity toward our environment.
QUESTION: What about the West Virginian who's not into coal, the other part of the state
that needs help so badly?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, education is going to be the first step, people getting
a good education are going to be able to find good work. And West Virginia has
got an interesting, burgeoning tourist industry; they've got a good natural
gas industry; and they've got a lot going for them. But a lot of it is going
to be the ability to educate the people so they can find work. And that's why
this education bill is a good piece of legislation.