Ups and Downs for the Week of November 17 - 21

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, November 22, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

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Buckle up, Mort, here come this week's ups and downs.

UP: Gay Marriage

BARNES: A ruling this week by the Massachusetts Supreme Court paves the way for gay couples to legally marry in that state, a move that's very unpopular among the American public.

The latest Fox News poll shows nearly two-thirds, 66 percent, oppose gay marriage, and a Pew poll shows differences within the political parties as well, 78 percent of Republican voters oppose gay marriage, while Democratic voters are divided, 46 percent favor, 48 percent oppose.

Now, I think this ruling was judicial overreach, it redefined what marriage is, which has always been just a man and a woman. But, you know, I was surprised by the response from the two leading opponents in official Washington to gay marriage.

One is Bill Frist (search), the, the Senate majority leader. When I asked him about it, he said, Well, we'll see how much further destruction is, and there is of this definition of marriage. And he said, We're not necessarily going to do anything next year in 2004, even if President Bush put out a very mild statement as well, opposing the ruling, but saying, Well, I'm going to look into it.

There are two amendments floating around, constitutional amendments. I don't know whether either one will pass or get through 38 states. But one would ban gay marriage. One would ban gay marriage and civil unions.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Well, you know, I'm glad to see that you think that Bill Frist and the president are being mellow about this.

BARNES: Yes, well, they are.

KONDRACKE: But, you know, what I would love to see is for President Bush to come out in favor of civil unions, thereby eliminating, because that's what the Democratic, just a second...

BARNES: Yes, but he's not ... in favor of civil unions.

KONDRACKE: Well, he, you know, if he was a...

BARNES: He'll tolerate them ... but he's not in favor of them.

KONDRACKE: Well, then why doesn't he just come out and say that he would tolerate them? I mean, that would eliminate this as a wedge issue...


KONDRACKE: ... in the 2004 campaign, since the Democratic candidates mainly are in favor of civil union, which gives the legal rights of marriage ... without using the term ...

BARNES: ... marriage.

KONDRACKE: ... the problem is that, that 80, while 59 percent of the public, according to a Pew poll, opposes gay marriage, 80 percent of evangelical Christians oppose it, and this is a group that Karl Rove (search) wants to turn out to the polls in 2004. So I'm afraid this is going to be a nasty, homophobic wedge issue ... before the campaign is over.

BARNES: ... Mort, I think not. There's no reason to believe that.

KONDRACKE: ... I hope you're right.

UP: President Bush

KONDRACKE: Not only were the "massive," quote unquote, anti- Bush demonstrations in London more subdued than predicted, a poll by the British paper The Guardian actually showed that American, pro-American and pro-war surge in Britain, 62 percent of Brits say that America is a force for good in the world, and 47 percent support the war in Iraq, up 9 points since July.

And the Republican National Committee (search) is already on the air with ... with ads touting President Bush's role in fighting the war on terror. Watch this.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our war against terror is a contest of will in which perseverance is power.

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike?


KONDRACKE: This, this is not a good ad. I mean, as an ad.


KONDRACKE: And, you know, the -- talk about a wedge issue.


KONDRACKE: Iraq is going to be a wedge issue, the war on terror's going to be a wedge issue. The Republicans justify the, the terminology in this ad that, that Bush is being attacked for fighting the war on terrorism by saying that Democrats are attacking John Ashcroft and the Patriot Act (search), which they ... which they are doing.


KONDRACKE: However, it implies ... that they are hitting him for fighting the war on terrorism ... most of the Democrats want to fight a war on terrorism ... in Afghanistan ...

BARNES: Yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... but not Iraq.

BARNES: Yes, they don't want to, they don't want to...

KONDRACKE: Preemptive war.

BARNES: No, they don't want to fight a war against terrorism ... under the Patriot Act, they don't want to fight a war against terrorism in Iraq, they don't want to fight a war against terrorism where illegal combatants who, who are American citizens who are immediately put in jail. So I think the ad is perfectly fine.

It's not a very good ad, though.

UP: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

Taking full advantage of his honeymoon period -- Governor Arnold (search) makes some bold moves in the state's budget crisis. He's foregoing his $175,000 salary, pressing the state legislatives, legislature to approve a constitutional spending cap and wants state voters to approve a $15 billion spending plan.

You know, $175,000 out of ed, he's worth what, about a half a billion?


BARNES: So it, I guess he can forego that. Democrats are only starting to slow things down in the legislature, amazingly enough. I don't think they can get away with it. But Arnold is going to come up with some specific spending cuts, a couple billion in this year's budget, and then we, the new budget in January, there'll be more. Real spending cuts.

KONDRACKE: Well, he's better come up with spending cuts, because so far he's added $4 billion to the deficit with repeal of the car tax ... and he's calling ... for, he's calling ... for a, a freeze on spending only ... and borrowing ... which even Tom McClintock (search) is, is against.


KONDRACKE: I think he's got problems.

UP: Congressional Pork

KONDRACKE: With adjournment right around the corner, lawmakers are loading on all kinds of special interest goodies into the 11th hour spending packages. The most egregious is a $150 million river walk project in Shreveport, Louisiana, John Breaux' territory, contained in, what else, the energy bill. Here's pork busters Senator John McCain on the Senate floor.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: This bill also contains the other white meat. And, of course, I'm referring to pork. I fear if we pass this 1,200-page pork-laden bill, the outbreak of Washington-based trichinosis will be so severe we'll be forced to construct a field office of the Centers for Disease Control (search) right next to the Capitol.


KONDRACKE: Pork isn't all they're stuffing...


KONDRACKE: ... into these bills ... they're stuffing policy, bad policy ... including a ban on embryonic cloning for, for medical research, which they're sticking in an appropriations bill. Dirty pool.

BARNES: That's not dirty pool at all. Happens all the time. The worst thing in, I think, the worst pork is this ethanol subsidy, which actually helps agribusiness and big companies, Archer Daniel Midland, not small farmers, that's for sure.

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