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Ups and Downs for the Week of March 25 - 29

This partial transcript of The Beltway Boys, March 30, was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Up and Down time.

Down: Vice President Dick Cheney

BARNES: Down, Vice President Dick Cheney. His Mideast tour that was supposed to enlist support for a potential strike against Iraq turns out to be a bust. Not only did the participants at this week's Arab summit not support a strike, they were outwardly hostile toward it.

Here's Ambassador Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMR MOUSSA, SECRETARY GENERAL, ARAB LEAGUE: There is a statement by the summit, a unanimous one, on this point, that we cannot accept any military strikes – strike against any Arab country...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Well, moreover, this summit went even further. It said that an attack on one Arab country is an attack on, on all of them.

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: You know, what, what you see, you're going to see shortly, is, is Crown Prince Abdullah, or great ally, kissing – that's Iraq's vice president. That is not a good sign for, for Cheney diplomacy.

BARNES: Certainly not.

KONDRACKE: I mean, and the other thing that happened at the summit was that Iraq made up with Kuwait, and Kuwait is the place that we would naturally want to launch an, an invasion of, of Iraq. Now, the Cheney line is that in private...

BARNES: Yes, right.

KONDRACKE: ... the Arabs all told us...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... to, to go right ahead. But, you know, I don't, I don't think they're that disingenuous.

BARNES: Look, in the end, these countries, whether it's Saudi Arabia or Kuwait or others, in the end they're going to have to be with us, meaning the United States, and the United States goes up probably this fall, takes military action against Iraq in order to wipe out the sites for mass – weapons of mass destruction where they're made, and to depose Saddam Hussein.

They're not going to have any choice. And there's one thing they respect, and that is, military power forcefully employed. And that's what they're going to see. And, and, and they want to – And besides, Mort, what if the U.S. then creates a democratic, free Iraq? I mean, are they going to try to depose it? They'll have to accept it.

KONDRACKE: Well, if we can get it done, I'm sure they will accept it.

Up: campaign finance reform

KONDRACKE: Up, campaign finance reform. With little fanfare and no signing ceremony, President Bush signed CFR into law, and now his Justice Department must defend it against any and all lawsuits, the two biggest by Senator Mitch McConnell, Fred's great hero, and one of his favorite organizations, the National Rifle Association.

Here's Bush when asked if his quiet signing of the bill meant that he was unhappy with it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: No, I'm not, I wouldn't have signed it if I was really unhappy with it. I think it improves the system. It enables a – an individual to give more money. And what I want to do is have a system that encourages more individual participation, as well as more disclosure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARNES: Yes, what he was talking about is the increase in hard money fra – that each individual can give to a candidate, from $1,000 to $2,000.  And, and, and who, in the year 2004 will be the greatest beneficiary of this...

KONDRACKE: George Bush.

BARNES: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE), he's going to raise an incredible amount of money, so he's happy about that.

Now, that, the hard money increase, will not be challenged in court by this all-star legal team put together by Mitch McConnell, starting with Ken Starr, the former independent counsel, and also including Floyd Abrams, the, the, the, the great First Amendment lawyer.

So they're not going to be going after the hard money bad (ph).

KONDRACKE: Yes, John McCain had The New York Times editorial page.  Mitch McConnell has The New York Time's lawyer, Floyd, Floyd Abrams.

BARNES: Yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: Now, now Bush's silent signing cere – la – nonceremony, I mean, normally you get – gather everybody down at the White House, pass out pens.

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: This was a way of giving the bird to, to John McCain, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

BARNES: The bird, you mean, the bird like the finger?

KONDRACKE: Yes, you know, yes. And, and, and also building back his support with people like Mitch McConnell, who, who don't like John McCain, to say...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... to say the least. But the Justice Department will have to defend this.

BARNES: Yes, of course they do. All right.

Down: West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd

BARNES: Down, West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd. Very close to Mort. He's getting big-time heat for singlehandedly holding up a Senate bill that would improve border security.

KONDRACKE: Now, The Wall Street Journal said that if a, if a terrorist sneaks across the U.S. border, it's going to be on Bob Byrd's head...

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: ... because, you know, he's blocking this, this beefing-up of, of security around the border, and he's also playing into the hands of nativist conservatives who, who, oppose even the mildest form of liberalization of immigration law to allow people who are eligible for...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... green cards to stay in the United States while the, while they're being processed through this, this bureaucracy. And on top of that, he's harassing Tom Ridge, the homeland security director, in order to get him to testify.

BARNES: Right, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

KONDRACKE: I mean, what Byrd ought to do is pass a law that says that home, that homeland security chief is a confirmable position.

BARNES: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), why do I balk at that phrase, "nativist conservatives"? You know, there are a lot of nativist...

KONDRACKE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I could call them...

BARNES: ... liberals too, you know, the environmentalists, labor people. There are plenty of them.

The other thing is, you know, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) as you say, he's harassing Tom Ridge. Look, Mort, don't you realize, this has become the only Democratic issue left? Enron didn't work, the deficit didn't work, and none of these other things have worked. So it's just, Give us Tom Ridge or else. They don't have any other issue.

Down: the Academy Awards

KONDRACKE: Down, the Academy Awards. Denzel Washington and Halle Berry may still be celebrating, but the Academy should take pause. The ratings for last Sunday's telecast were the lowest in history, and displays of patriotism or acknowledgment of America's fighting men and women were few and far between. In fact, the show's most pro-America moment came from a Brit. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIAN FELLOWES, SCREENWRITER, GOSFORD PARK: I want to thank the Academy and all of you for your tradition of kindness to foreigners like myself. I think you must be the most generous nation on earth. So thank you very much, and God bless America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KONDRACKE: Well, Kevin Spacey and Whoopi Goldberg on this telecast did refer to the 9/11 heroes, but there was no...

BARNES: Pleadingly.

KONDRACKE: ... support – pleadingly. There was no support for the troops...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... in Afghanistan, there was no support for the war on terrorism, there was no singing of "God Bless America," there were no flag lapel pins in evidence. I thought Hollywood was looking for ways to, to support the war effort.

BARNES: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

KONDRACKE: I mean, I guess they couldn't find one.

BARNES: Well, but look, I agree, they should have done a lot better.  But there have been a couple of movies that have been pretty good, Black Hawk Down, that new Mel Gibson movie, the name of which I can't think of right now, but...

KONDRACKE: We Were Soldiers?

BARNES: Yes, yes, We Were Soldiers, and so on. So some things have improved. And, I mean, I...

KONDRACKE: But, you know, but the Academy Awards is the big moment...

BARNES: And it's...

KONDRACKE: ... and they should have had...

BARNES: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

KONDRACKE: ... they should have had...

BARNES: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

KONDRACKE: ... flag lapel pins.

BARNES: It, it's a very, very telling moment, and you know what, Mort? I wasn't surprised, and I think you were either, despite what our buddy Lionel Chetwynd had told us about how Hollywood was different now. All right.

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