This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", Jan. 8, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: I’m Fred Barnes.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: And I’m Mort Kondracke. We’re "The Beltway Boys."

BARNES: And hot story number one is, no honeymoon. No honeymoon for George Bush as he embarks on his second presidential term.

Now, neither you nor I, I think, were foolish enough to think that we were about to embark on an era of good feelings in Washington between the two political parties, and there would be bipartisanship, and it would be lovey-dovey, and so on. Right?


BARNES: Right, OK. But I think we’ve gotten a couple of indications just in the last few days about how rough and tough Washington’s actually going to be, its political life, in the next four years.

First, there was this challenge by some Democrats, led by Barbara Boxer, the California senator, of Bush’s obvious election in the Electoral College (search) in Washington. Watch her, and then Mike DeWine of Ohio responding.


U.S. SENATOR BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Our people are dying all over the world, a lot from my state. For what reason? To bring democracy to the far corners of the world. Let’s fix it here...

U.S. SENATOR MIKE DEWINE (R), OHIO: The election horse is dead. You can stop beating it now. Not one ounce of political flesh remains on that carcass. Ohio has counted and recounted. President George W. Bush received 118,775 more votes than your man, Senator John Kerry.


BARNES: OK, that’s first. Second, there was a confirmation hearing for attorney general, the hearing involving Alberto Gonzales (search), the nominee who has been the White House counsel and is obviously very close to Bush.

Now, I thought it was a rougher examination of Gonzales, who’s Hispanic, than I expected. I mean, look, he’s going to be...

KONDRACKE: Confirmed.

BARNES: Yes, yes, he’ll be confirmed. But this was no kid’s glove treatment of him at all, and I thought he got worked over pretty good. And look, it’s an important post I don’t object to that. But it wasn’t, you know, it didn’t make you feel good about civility prevailing in Washington.

Now, I think it can only get worse. President Bush is pushing a huge agenda, Social Security reform, tax reform, tort reform. We have all these judicial nominations. And he’s not backing off, as he says. Listen.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it’s important, as we head into a new session, to confront problems, to not pass them on to future Congresses or a future president. I don’t know about what your time frame is for the amount of time you anticipate spending here, but mine’s about four more years, and then I’m going home.

And so I want to confront problems, and I will. I’ll call upon Congress to take on big issues.


BARNES: You know, I like that. Let me just say one thing. I kind of like Bush on that subject. You know, look, we’re going to confront big problems, not pass them on. But no honeymoon. Here’s Democratic opposition and lots of those whiney op-eds about why no civility in Washington.

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, I’ll write some of those, because I like civility.

Now, look, Bush, in that statement, neglected the fact that he is ducking the two biggest issues facing the future of the country, including your children, namely, Medicare and Medicaid which are far more expensive and more burdensome than, than Social Security (search). He is tackling, tackling Social Security.

BARNES: You must have been against this Medicare prescription drug benefit, because it only makes the Medicare thing worse.

KONDRACKE: I want it to be smaller.

BARNES: You were in favor of it.

KONDRACKE: I wanted a smaller one.

BARNES: You, no, you were in favor of it.

KONDRACKE: I, I wanted a smaller one. Anyway, second, secondly he wants to make his tax cuts permanent, and eventually, which adds even more burden, because the tax cuts are not going to pay for themselves, contrary to what you supply-siders think.

BARNES: They already are. The deficit went down by $100 billion.

KONDRACKE: It didn’t.

BARNES: It did, it did — $103 billion.

KONDRACKE: No, no, it didn’t. No, that’s faulty accounting.

BARNES: No, it’s not.

KONDRACKE: But we can get to that later. And, as to Alberto Gonzales, there were legitimate questions that had to be asked about what is torture policy in, in the, in the administration. The administration is now against it, it’s clear. But it wasn’t so clear before.

But your fundamental point that there’s going to be a lot of fighting is correct, and, and especially on some good proposals that Bush has on tort reform on Social Security reform, which I think, which I favor, both of them.

Now, the signal of the Democratic opposition was the stance of Max Baucus, who is the number one Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee and was supportive of Bush on that Medicare prescription drug bill, which, by the way, was his idea. And bought the support of it, but is Baucus going to support Social Security reform?

KONDRACKE: Second hot story is humanity at its best. And I, by that I’m talking about the international response, vast, $4 billion worth, to the relief of the, of the Indian Ocean tsunami (search). With most countries participating in it — the United States was a little slow on the uptake, but is now at its usual generous level, both as to money, public and private money, $350 million from the federal government, lots more, or lots to come from private, the private sector, plus troops, ships, amphibious craft, helicopters, and all the rest.

Here’s Colin Powell talking about the geopolitical aspect of all that.


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: It turns out that the majority of those nations affected were Muslim nations. But we would be doing it regardless of religion. But I think it does give the Muslim world and the rest of the world an opportunity to see American generosity, American values in action.


KONDRACKE: We have done a lot for Muslims, in Kosovo (search), in Kuwait, Iraq, now Indonesia. Somehow we never seem to get credit for it. I mean, take a look at this, this guy in Indonesia. He’s got, there’s a shirt there with Usama bin Laden on it.

BARNES: Yes. I don’t think he’s going to give us credit.

KONDRACKE: Yes. Somebody’s got to point out that they, that the, that the real stingy people here are the Russians and the Gulf Arabs who could certainly afford to do more and they’re Muslims.

BARNES: Yes, I know they are. Look, you know, President Bush was a little slow to recognize this new circumstance in the world, and that is, it’s not enough for a president just to respond to big disasters in the U.S., and of, of course President Bush went to Florida after each of those hurricanes a few months ago. He’s got to respond quickly to a big disaster anywhere in the world now, and the president did, it took him a couple days. All right.

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