Ups and Downs for the Week of Dec. 16-20

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, December 21, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: OK, let's go to the Ups and Downs .

DOWN: Incoming House minority leader Nancy Pelosi

Just minutes after Trent Lott dropped out, Pelosi leveled a new explosive charge against the GOP. It's not just Lott who is a racist, it's the whole party. Watch this.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: We just came through an election, and in some states, like the state of Georgia, the Confederate flag was an issue, and it was an issue that was exploited by the Republicans to defeat Democrats to the United States Senate, for Congress, and for the important position of governor of that state.

So while Senator Lott stepping down is an important step, a message that the Republicans are putting forth, there's a great deal of work to be done in our country.


FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Mort...wait a minute, that is race-baiting. I mean...there's no other, other thing to call it. And race-baiting is now largely the work of Democrats. It was not only Nancy Pelosi, it was Hillary Clinton saying, you know, what Lott said in public, Republicans in the back roads are privately all saying the same thing. Bill Clinton got in on it, Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic National Chairman, you know, calling Republicans racists, and then Tom Daschle as well, or at least suggesting that.

This Georgia stuff is a complete canard. Republicans did not run on the flag at all, their gubernatorial candidate, and the flag had been an issue in that race. He wasn't using it. He never brought it up, wasn't in his stump speeches, no ads. It wasn't in brochures, wasn't in direct mail. The Republican Party had never endorsed the Confederate flag.

It is nonsense. It is just another excuse by the Democrats for their poor performance on November 5. Their response to that election is the least graceful of any party I've ever seen.

KONDRACKE: Now, look, you, you simply can't deny, and I hope you don't deny, that there is a paleoracist strain in the...OK, but it, but it still, it still exists, I...

BARNES: Strom Thurmond's retiring.

KONDRACKE: Yes, I know, but, you know, and there were, you know, scurrilous pamphlets in the, in the 2000 primaries in South Carolina and stuff like that.

BARNES: Yes, but they don't know whether -- who put those out.

KONDRACKE: We don't know put it.... But they were still in the Republican Party.

Anyway, you know, I think that the, that the Democrats are losing credibility by claiming that the, that the entire Republican Party, or implying that the entire Republican Party is built on racism. I mean, at one time, it -- the resurgence of the Republican Party in the South was built largely on, on racial...supremacy, but part...but, but that's over. And every time you see...

BARNES: Yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... a picture of President Bush with Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, it is a...


KONDRACKE: ... it's a rebuke...


KONDRACKE: ... to this Republican, to this Democratic tactic.

BARNES: Indeed.

UP: Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. 

BARNES: With Al Gore out of the picture, Lieberman's free to explore his presidential ambitions, and emerges as an early front-runner and the only centrist in an increasingly crowded Democratic field.

In the first poll taken after Gore's decision not to run, Lieberman comes out with an early lead.

Now, is he really going to run as a centrist this time? He ran as a liberal with Gore.

KONDRACKE: Well, he did come out, surprisingly to me, actually, in favor of the president's decision on -- to go ahead with missile defense.

BARNES: OK, good.

KONDRACKE: And you have not heard Joe Lieberman joining this clique of Democrats...


KONDRACKE: ... claiming the Republican Party is racist.

BARNES: Yes, one other thing, and that is -- well, I forget, I forget -- Well, oh, I know what it is. Why are all these Democratic pros supposedly saying Lieberman can't win the nomination?

KONDRACKE: Too centrist.

BARNES: Maybe you're right.

DOWN: Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

KONDRACKE: She's getting pummeled for her remarks yesterday before a group of high school students in Vancouver, Washington.

Here's what she said, quote, "Why is this man, Usama bin Laden, so popular around the world? He's been out in these countries for decades building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building daycare facilities, building health care facilities. And the people are extremely grateful. We haven't done that."

Where to start?


KONDRACKE: Ms. Murray, September 11, remember that?


KONDRACKE: That was not a building operation of, of any kind. You know, the fact, fact is that Patty Murray was the Democratic counterpart to Bill Frist...


KONDRACKE: ... you know, the head of the Democrat...

BARNES: And now we know why the Republicans won the Senate.

KONDRACKE: It's a wonder they didn't win 10, you know, Republicans.

BARNES: Yes, yes. What is this impulse, though, of some people, mostly lefties, to install Usama bin Laden on the high moral ground and, of course, he hasn't done any of these things.


BARNES: Can you imagine him out there working with the asphalt, putting down a road? He's done none of that.

Let me move on.

DOWN: Actor Sean Penn

BARNES: Penn shows either incredible arrogance or naivete by going on a, quote unquote, "fact-finding trip" to Iraq and winds up being used as a propaganda tool by the Iraqis. Here's part of Penn's statement last week.

Quote, "If there is a war or continued sanctions against Iraq, the blood of Americans and Iraqis alike will be on our hands," unquote.

Now, here's the the Iraqi news service reported Penn's comments also. Here it is, quote, "The American movie star Sean Penn has condemned the U.S.-British threats to wage war against Iraq. He confirmed Iraq is completely clear of weapons of mass destruction, and the United Nations must adopt a positive stance toward Iraq."

Well, now, look, he denied what the Iraqi news service said. But his statement was bad enough. I mean, he went to Iraq, he's in a long tradition of dupes. Remember the Webbs from England when they went through the USSR, Jane Fonda know the whole thing. I mean, I mean, this is silly, come on, don't...I mean, those Hollywood people ought to sober up.

KONDRACKE: Well, you know, I guess Sean Penn didn't see or didn't notice these humongous mosques that Saddam Hussein is building, you know.


KONDRACKE: They're all dedicated to him, himself, not to God. You know...


KONDRACKE: should have occurred to Sean Penn that the Iraqi people are suffering not because of U.S. sanctions...


KONDRACKE: ... because of Saddam.

BARNES: Should have, but it didn't. OK.

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