Ups and Downs for the Week of March 8 - 12

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", March 13, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: It's time for the ups and downs.

DOWN: So-Called 527 Groups

The legality of these shadow groups is being questioned after a barrage of anti-Bush TV ads hits the airwaves. The latest, this ad by the Media Fund (search), a Democratic-leaning group financed in part by billionaire and pathological Bush-hater George Soros (search). Watch.


ANNOUNCER: President Bush. Remember the American dream? It's about hope, not fear. It's about more jobs at home, not tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas. It's about giving our children their chance, not our debt. It's about providing health care for people, not just profits.

It's about fighting for the middle class, not special interests.

George Bush's priorities are eroding the American dream.


BARNES: You know, that's not a very effective ad, because the pictures are so ... thought it was Morning in America again, yes.

Well, look, these liberal Democrats better spend their money as fast as they can.

This soft money (search), because pretty soon the Federal Election Commission (search) is going to rule that they can't use millions from these rich liberals like George Soros in ads attacking the Bush campaign, or, for the same thing, you know, if you had some rich conservatives who wanted to run ads about attacking Kerry, because the rules is, you can only use hard money, and that would be only $2,000 of George Soros' dollars, not the $5 or $10 million that he's giving them.

And I think this is going to really curb how much, how many attacks there are on George Bush. These outside groups thought they might equal all the money Bush has raised. But nope, I don't think it's going to be legal.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: You know, there are such massive hypocrisy on both sides in this case. You've got the Democrats...

BARNES: Indeed.

KONDRACKE: ... who were the leaders of the band against soft money ... now they're in favor of soft money ... and the Republicans were all...

BARNES: Yes, I know.

KONDRACKE: ... for free speech...

BARNES: I know.

KONDRACKE: ... you know, and now they're trying to silence these 547s. But it does look as though the FEC is going to rule against them ... that's going to go to court, but that's going to take some time, and presumably the FECs will be salad.

Up: Obesity in America

The Centers for Disease Control (search) says this week that obesity is on track to overtake smoking as the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. But the House of Representatives said that's a problem for individuals, not the courts. It easily passed a measure this week barring lawsuits against fast food restaurants like McDonald's on grounds that their food makes customers fat.

Here's Republican Ric Keller, chief sponsor of the bill.


REP. RIC KELLER (R), FLORIDA: These obesity lawsuits against the food industry aren't going to make a single person any skinnier. They're just designed to make the trial lawyers' bank accounts a lot fatter.


KONDRACKE: Looks like he could use a little discipline himself there.

BARNES: Yes, yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: But, he's perfectly right. The trial lawyers should not be getting fat off of this. What the answer to the obesity problem is, one tax the fat content of food, and two, insurance companies should be encouraged to charge a premium to overweight policy holders just the way they do for people who smoke.

BARNES: You know what the answer is, Mort? Will power. Push yourself away from the table. That's what you do.

Look, I mean, higher premiums for people who are overweight, that's one thing. But your tax idea is absolutely ludicrous. It would affect middle class, lower middle class, and poor people, because those are the people who tend to be overweight.

Rich people, Mort, have personal trainers, so they're skinny.

So that...

KONDRACKE: Since when have you been in favor of progressive taxation? I mean, you know, I'm, I'm...

BARNES: No, this is regressive taxation, the ... I'm going to go to the next item.

KONDRACKE: You're in favor of sin taxes.

BARNES: No, I, well, some sin, yes, but being fat's not a sin, it's just a mistake.

Up: Senate Democrats

Along with Alaska and Illinois, Senate Democrats can add Colorado to their list of states where they can pick up a Senate seat. Democratic Attorney General Ken Salazar will be hard to beat now that Republican Governor Bill Owens and other key Republicans have decided not to run.

Colorado is a state that Republicans had just assumed Senator Campbell would be reelected. He surprised them by dropping out of the race. But it is a state that has been trending Republican in recent years. So I think Bob Schaeffer, the former congressman, who will probably be the Democratic nominee, Republican nominee, will have at least a 50-50 chance of winning.

Now, the other state that's interesting is Illinois, where Peter Fitzgerald, the Republican senator, is retiring, and the state was almost conceded to the Democrats. But Blair Hull, their leading candidate, the one the Republicans feared the most, has self-destructed, and now it looks like Barack Obama is going to win, and Republicans will have a lot better chance of holding that seat against him.

KONDRACKE: You know, so many candidates, Democrat and Republican, will get, were bailing out of that Colorado ... Senate race that it reminded you of a, you know, the car at the circus with the clowns...


KONDRACKE: ... climbing out one after the other. But I got to say that if Ken Salazar wins in a Republican- leaning state, it will cause you to rethink whether realignment is such a fast-moving proposition.

BARNES: Yes, well, don't bet on it yet.


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