This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 12, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST:  William F. Buckley has been a staple in the conservative community as an author, columnist and founder of "The National Review (search)."

Now that the conservative commentator has decided to step down, he's released his literary autobiography, "Miles Gone By." Earlier tonight, we spoke with Mr. Buckley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Nice to see you. How are you?

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Very good. "Miles Gone By." This is a bit of an autobiography in terms of...

WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, AUTHOR, "MILES GONE BY":  A memoir. Yes.

HANNITY: ... your writings. Yes.

BUCKLEY: It begins when I was a child growing up in Northwest Connecticut and takes me through boarding school in England and then the Army and then Yale.

HANNITY: Sailing, and your father, and a lot about your life.

BUCKLEY: Yes. That's right. That's the idea.

HANNITY: Well, yes, of course. I didn't know you were into sailing and wine and all -- there's a whole other side of you. I like William F. Buckley Jr., the right wing conservative, good, you know, mentor to all of us.

BUCKLEY: Well, I'll show you what sections to read in the book.

HANNITY: I've been reading it.

BUCKLEY: I think an autobiography should say something about the person who is writing it and I've had a lot of experiences.

I mean, I flew an airplane when I was a freshman at school and raced sailboats and all that stuff. Now, the question is: Can it be interesting? I think it's fascinating.

HANNITY: It's your life. It better be.

BUCKLEY: It's got to be well told. You said you have trouble writing yourself but...

HANNITY: I said I don't like the editing process.

BUCKLEY: Well, I think that there's a lot of pleasure that's taken from getting a raw paragraph and attempting a transmutation into something that you don't mind reading the next day, so Shakespeare and I don't mind editing.

HANNITY: You're stepping down from "National Review" after, what, 49 years now. You will continue to write, though.

BUCKLEY: I will continue to write. I still have a column pretty widely published. I have a book practically every year. So, I will continue to write.

"National Review," I resigned from it as acting editor 15 years ago. And Rich Lowry does a wonderful job as my successor.

What happened last week is that I thought there should be a sense of consummation. And the only way to do that is to give away ownership of it. As long as I had owned 100 percent of the stock, there was a sense in which you never have things pointed to me. I don't do that anymore.

HANNITY: But if you do that and you write this autobiography, one might interpret that to mean you're sort of getting out of the public scene.

BUCKLEY: Well, of course. I'm on my way to dying.

HANNITY: Oh, my gosh.

BUCKLEY: I'm 78 years old.

HANNITY: Well, you're still healthy. But you're still healthy and you take good care of...

BUCKLEY: How do you know I'm healthy?

HANNITY: We're all on our way to dying, for that matter, are we not?

BUCKLEY: You get closer and closer and you never can achieve...

HANNITY: We hope not. That's the one thing we don't want to hit.

BUCKLEY: I think it's nice not to die on stage. I'm sure you don't want to go to the golden gate halfway through a broadcast 100 years from now.

COLMES: I think the whole thing is we don't want this to be your last appearance on “Hannity & Colmes.” You know, we don't want this to be, you know, it.

BUCKLEY: Well, I'll send you some vitamin pills and ask for a sequel to my book, "Miles Gone By," and I'll be back.

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: It's good to know. You talk about diving down to see the Titanic. You appeared as a soloist in a symphony orchestra and all the things you've done, as Sean pointed out, in your life.

But I'm guessing punditry was a wise career choice, given all the other experiences you had, correct? I mean, you've no regrets about the path you chose?

BUCKLEY: No. I'm very proud of the magazine that I founded. I think it's done a terrific job. And it influenced government, Ronald Reagan (search).

HANNITY: Me.

BUCKLEY: Yes. You. Yes, there you are.

HANNITY: I don't know if you want...

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: ... something that you're proud of.

BUCKLEY: No, I'm delighted of it. It sounds a little bit narcissistic to say that something that you created is terrific. But if it is terrific, what are you going to do?

COLMES: And you did create it. Right? That's absolutely true. I mean, you are an icon to the people on the left and the right for what you've created and established in your life.

Maybe you don't want to be an icon to the left. I don't know.

BUCKLEY: Well, it's been a fascinating life. I knew Ronald Reagan years ago and Barry Goldwater. But that was pretense some of the time. And people refused to acknowledge the basic literacy of the conservative movement.

That's changed. They don't do that anymore. But still, there's a certain pent-up sense that you can't possibly be literate and embrace the conservative faith. To confound that position requires writing a book every year.

HANNITY: And you've been quite successful at doing that.

COLMES: Conservatism, as it's practiced today, modern-day conservatism, which is of course much more popular than it was when you were a lone voice, is this the conservatism of William F. Buckley Jr.? Are you pleased with where the conservative movement ...

BUCKLEY: Good point, good point, because it continues to grow. There are certain disintegrating elements in it. There are polarizations here and there.

If you ask yourself the question, does anybody want to introduce socialism in this country, the answer is no. Fifty years ago you wanted to nationalize the instruments of production, wealth and distribution. Nobody does that anymore.

In respect to the Soviet Union, which was extremely important up until that battle was won, there were people who simply didn't want to contest the growth of the Soviet Union and the conservatives I think were pretty reliable on that point.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLMES:  We thank Mr. Buckley, with whom we spoke earlier.

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