This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", August 28, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: In the Big Apple (search), you know, you can, if you hear that music in the background, that's The Beltway Boys Philharmonic practicing here at Madison Square Garden.

Time for the ups and downs this week.

DOWN: The New York Times

They're leading the mainstream media effort to make 527s and the Swift Boat Veterans the issue, not charges against Kerry.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Well, you know, The Washington Post and The New York Times on Saturday both neglected the Schachte story...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... which you, which you, is the substantial...

BARNES: But he did put out a public statement.

KONDRACKE: ... I know, I, yes.

BARNES: You know.

KONDRACKE: Now, The New York Times, this is what The New York Times' coverage has been. They've published two charts, not one but two, showing links between...

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: ... the Swift Boat Veterans and the Bush campaign...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... ostensibly trying to prove coordination. Not one chart showing equal ties between various Bush-bashing 27, 527s and the, the Democratic Party.

And The New York Times has yet to deal with the merits of the actual charges. As a matter of fact, they've been dismissive of them, say that they're un-, unsubstantiated, they're, you know, they're not un-, unsubstantiated.

BARNES: ... some more, some more. You know, look, the good news is that no longer in America do the big newspapers and the television networks decide what's news and what's not. They can't stamp things out. They're not the gatekeepers.

This story of the Swift Boat Veterans and Kerry was really put on the front pages by talk radio and Internet bloggers. And you know who more than anybody else has really done it? Hugh Hewitt, our friend who is actually both a talk radio host and an Internet blogger. And he's made a huge difference.

KONDRACKE: OK.

UP: GOP Platform Committee Chairman Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist

From stem cell research and abortion to gay marriage, Frist pushes through a largely conservative platform over the objections of moderates in the party.

BARNES: You know, the truth is, there are not many moderates. It's mainly ... there's some, but ... these are moderate conservatives, mainly, in the Republican Party now. So it's not surprising it's a very conservative platform.

Frist did a good job, but it wasn't a tough job, you know, getting this platform that had already been written and produced and hand it to him.

There's one part that I thought was really a mistake, a tactical mistake, and let me read you this part of the platform. It says, "We further believe that legal recognition and the accompanying benefits afforded to couples should be preserved for that unique and special union of one man and one vote."

Now, look, I think opposing gay marriage...

KONDRACKE: Woman.

BARNES: One -- OK, one woman. I'm not going to read the whole thing again, but thank you for the correction. Look, I, I think it's fine to oppose gay marriage or even oppose civil unions. But if states want to take into account that there are some of these committed couples, and they would allow them to share the benefits and so on and get benefits, I think it's a mistake to oppose that, but particularly tactically. And money's the water in the fight against gay marriage.

KONDRACKE: Fred, you're becoming a liberal. Watch out ... watch out, you're, you're interpreting...

BARNES: ... no chance at all.

KONDRACKE: OK. Now, look, I thought that Bush was in favor, or at least permissive, and, and, or wanted to be silent about the idea... of, of, of benefits and civil unions. You know, he's supposed to be in charge of this, of this platform, and what, what I think this means is, you know, I think that's a, that's a weak position to start with.

But to come out against it in the platform makes this the idea of compassionate conservatism a fraud, and it...

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: ... and there's no, and there, you know, the fact that Dick Cheney said that, that gays have the, should have the freedom to...

BARNES: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

BARNES: ... to fall in love with one another...

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: ... well, thank you very much. I mean, the Supreme Court said that... that you can't outlaw that.

BARNES: Compassionate conservatism a fraud.

KONDRACKE: A fraud, yes.

BARNES: I'll remember that, I'll, I'll pass that on to Bush. OK.

UP: The Real Dream Team

The U.S. women's softball team, you wouldn't know it by watching NBC, NBC's coverage of the Olympics, but the world, but the women's softball team dominated. Now, look, I follow sports pretty closely. This is the most dominant team I think ever in any sport at any time, and particularly at the Olympics, even more, they won every game by a lot, they gave up one run in the entire Olympics.

And, it's not that it's some obscure sport. A lot of people play softball all around the world and in the U.S. They were more dominant than even that great dream team men's basketball team of a few years ago with Michael Jordan, Magic, Larry Bird, and so on, Charles Barkley. The nightmare team ... with the men's basketball team.

And I agree with Alan Iverson when he said some of the big stars like Shaq and Tracy McGrady, who didn't come, should have come. But you know the moment for me? You know what a great patriotic moment for me, did you happen to see it? Where after the women's soccer team had won the gold medal, and they're getting their awards, and they're all singing "The Star-
Spangled Banner," I mean, they're terrible singers ... but it was just a great patriotic moment. I loved it.

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, look, I loved the NBC coverage of the Olympics, and devoting so many channels to this stuff, with one exception...

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: ... there was not one prime time moment give to the women's soft, softball team. Now, I think that, that Lisa Fernandez and Jennie Finch ...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... deserve to be at least as famous as the women's beach volleyball team.

BARNES: Yes, I'll go along with that.

KONDRACKE: OK.

UP: Singer Jessica Simpson

She's the highest-profile celeb in the pro-Bush ranks. The question is, is she the GOP's answer to Ben Affleck? Is she?

BARNES: Look, it's true, look, Kerry gets more of the entertainment stars than Bush does. But, you know, Jessica Simpson, getting her is a real catch. Now, is she going to go out like Ben Affleck and campaign with Bush or Cheney the week after this convention? I'd be very surprised.

But Mort, the truth is, Hollywood goes for Kerry, Nashville, and all the country singers, they go for Bush. Who is more representative of America, the Hollywood types or these down-home country signers? I mean, who would you rather have on your side? Who's more representative, Whoopi Goldberg or LeeAnn Womack? I ask you...

KONDRACKE: Yes, right, right.

BARNES: ... Mort.

KONDRACKE: Now, I have, I have a, a confession to make, which may shock you. I have no idea who Jessica Simpson is. I, I, I will say that the...

BARNES: A lovely woman.

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, in any event ... in any event, you know, I trust that the Bush celebrities will behave themselves better than Whoopi Goldberg and, and Michael Moore did...

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: ... and, in fact, there are a lot of Democratic celebrities here in New York to join the protests, which could get, could get ugly.

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