This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, May 18, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: I'm going to go to the Ups and Downs, with your permission.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Go.

Down: PLO chairman Yasser Arafat

BARNES: Down, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat. Amid growing Palestinian and international pressure, Arafat admits to mismanagement of the Palestinian Authority and pledges to clean up his act. But the Israelis ain't buying. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIEL TAUB, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTRY: You can understand that on the basis of Yasser Arafat's past records, he hasn't scored a lot of credibility points with the Israeli public, both in terms of his promises as far as fighting terrorism is concerned and as far as steps that will help the peace process move forward.

And — but we do recognize that there's a new recognition in the international community that you can't simply support the narrow agenda of the Palestinian leadership. You have to support the much broader agenda that will serve the real interests of the Palestinian people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KONDRACKE: You know, Arafat is a lot like his buddy, Arafat...

BARNES: Castro.

KONDRACKE: Castro. You know, there aren't going to be free and fair elections...

BARNES: Yes, right.

KONDRACKE: ... in the Palestinian Authority if, if Arafat has any, anything to say about it. The pressure is on for reform among the Palestinians, something like 80 percent of whom, in or — one poll said that the, the, that the government is corrupt.

But a Hamas spokesman, and I, you know, would never credit a Hamas spokesman with any other issue...

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: ... but this, said that any election that Arafat presided over is only going to replace one corrupt group of people with another.

BARNES: Yes, you know, when the politicians announce that they're going to be the new Arafat, you know, remember the new Nixon? And I draw no moral equivalence between the two. But, you know, you have to have doubts. There's only one way where you're going to move ahead toward a peace settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and that's with Arafat out and somebody else who the Israelis can deal with in.

Up: Russian President Vladimir Putin

KONDRACKE: Go. OK. Up, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin makes a two bold West — pro-Western moves this week, agreeing to a two- thirds reject — reduction in Russia's nuclear stockpile, and pledges to work more, more closely with NATO.

BARNES: You know, there've been a lot of doubters of whether Vladimir Putin was just making tactical moves that the U.S. liked. I think after this week, you have to realize he has made a strategic decision to join the West and join the United States diplomatically, economically, culturally, any way you can think of.

I mean, he's done so many more things that just this stuff. But he's for real. He's on our side. The correlation of forces have changed in the world for the better.

KONDRACKE: Fred Barnes has looked into the soul of Vladimir Putin just as, as President Bush did and found, and found an ally.

BARNES: Yes, well, Bush was there first...

KONDRACKE: ... what — OK.

BARNES: ... I give him credit.

KONDRACKE: ... but what Putin will, I will believe that Putin is on our side when he says, President Bush, I support your invasion of, of, of Iraq, toppling Saddam Hussein. I, you know, I, I know that you think that he will do that...

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: ... if he does, it will make the Europeans crazy, you know.

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: But that's all the more reason why it should happen.

BARNES: You know, it's not that I think that, it's the, the White House and the, and, and the Bush administration that think that. OK.

Up: Soft money

BARNES: Up, soft money. The race is on to raise as much soft money as possible before new campaign finance laws kick in after November's elections, something Republicans took full advantage of this week. They raked in a record $33 million at a gala fund-raiser.

But Democrats have now charged that Republicans have really done something distasteful and wrong by using a picture of Bush aboard Air Force One on September 11 — I think he's talking to Vice President Cheney on the phone — as a reward for donors of $150.

Mort, this is complete nonsense. I mean, this photo is in the public domain. And after all, Franklin Delano Roosevelt accepted the Democratic nomination with — for president for reelection in 1944 from a Navy ship, for heaven's sakes. So this is mild compared to that. And both are all right.

KONDRACKE: So you'd like to see President Bush announce his re-election on an air base, maybe, in a uniform with a flag draped around his shoulders?

BARNES: OK by me.

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