Ups and Downs for the Week of September 13 - 17

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", Sept. 18, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Let's check out and who's down this week.

DOWN: Dan Rather

No surprise. His reputation is on the line now that it's becoming increasingly clear that documents relating to President Bush's National Guard service (search) are fake. Here's Rather Wednesday seeming to back off the story. Watch.


DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS: We will keep an open mind, and we will continue to report credible evidence and responsible points of view as we try to answer the questions raised about the authenticity of the documents.

Having said that, we do feel it's important to underscore this point. Those who have criticized aspects of our story have never criticized the heart of it, the major thrust of our report, that George Bush received preferential treatment to get into the National Guard, and, once accepted, failed to satisfy the requirements of his service.


KONDRACKE: Well, first place... that's not true, people, people...

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Of course not, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... people have questioned all that.


KONDRACKE: But secondly, suppose that Dan is right. Suppose that George Bush did use pull to get into the National Guard...


KONDRACKE: ... and then shirked...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... at the end of it. What ... what difference does it make? I mean, the fact is that Bill Clinton dodged military service entirely...


KONDRACKE: ... and still got elected president.

BARNES: It's true, you know, well, look, CBS doesn't have a leg to stand on these documents, and they ought to just, you know, I mean, they're clearly fabrications. They ought to just 'fess up and say, Look, we made a mistake. These documents are frauds, and we think some of the rest of our story's right, but, but they're frauds.

And then, that's when the firing begins, because somebody's going to have to be, be held responsible for that. Note what's happened at other, at other agencies, over the Jayson Blair affair, who got fired, the head guy, executive editor Howell Raines. At NBC a few years ago, remember when they faked that blowing up of the truck, who got fired, Michael Gartner, the head of NBC News.

When they had these stories, these foreign correspondents' stories at USA Today that, parts of which turned out to be untrue, who got fired, the editor. See what I'm getting at?


BARNES: At some point, I think Dan Rather...

KONDRACKE: Wishful thinking.

BARNES: ... yes, going to go. No, it's not wishful thinking. I think you have to ... it's called accountability, not wishful thinking. OK.

DOWN: Teresa Heinz Kerry

In the past week, she's called people who oppose her husband's health care plan idiots and suggested hurricane relief efforts focused too much on sending clothes to victims. She's, she says that they should, "run around naked for a while, at least the kids." Maybe Kerry should take the advice of "Late Show" host Craig Kilborn. Watch.


CRAIG KILBORN, HOST: John Kerry took one of his campaign bumper stickers and put one on his bus. He put it on his bus, OK? I'm saying, if he really wants to win, how about putting one over his wife's mouth?


KONDRACKE: Now, look, if in fairness, what, what, no ... no, in fairness, what she meant was that the first priorities for aid ought to be water, electric generators, and food, rather than clothing. But that said, I do not think that Teresa Heinz Kerry is going to be the head of FEMA in the Kerry administration.

BARNES: ... you know, Mort, usually when you preface some comment with "in fairness," I wince. I figure I'm not going to agree with what you say. But I agreed that time. That was very good.

Now, Teresa Heinz Kerry also says that the common man -- there's an expression we haven't heard in a long time -- the common man doesn't think that she's a rich witch, that's witch, with a W. The truth is, the super-rich like she is are often totally oblivious, and I think she is.


DOWN: Ralph Nader

More than 70 celebrities, intellectuals, and activists who supported him in 2000 have signed a petition urging voters not to vote for Nader in November, saying it would amount to a vote for Bush. Among the signatories of the petition, familiar faces, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, Phil Donahue, and Bonnie Raitt.

BARNES: Goofy-looking picture of Phil Donahue. But in any case, I love this story. I, I think this is great, all these people who, all these celebrities and so on who, who told us it was critical to elect Ralph Nader in 2000 now are saying, Don't vote for him because it's going to help vote Bush.

I mean, these people are flibbertygibbets. I mean, they can't make up their mind, they -- they -- the good news is that they really don't have any influence, though they think they do, and that their political views are so important and so on.

Here's what I want to know, Mort. This is a question for you. What in the world are these Bush-haters going to do after all their concerts and, you know, attacking Bush, and movies and documentaries and so on attacking Bush, and he wins anyway? What are they going to do? Move to France?

KONDRACKE: Well, no, there's, there's Welbutrin, there's Zoloft, there's, there's ... all those things, they're on there, they're on the market.

Look, I hope the signers of this petition realize what total fools they are.


KONDRACKE: In 2000, they helped defeat Al Gore (search).


KONDRACKE: And now it turns out that Al Gore is every bit as left-wing as Ralph Nader...and even angrier.

BARNES: Well, maybe they should come out and endorse Al Gore again, oh, I love it, it's just too good to be true. OK.

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