This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys," April 29, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Let’s check out our "Ups and Downs" for the week.
DOWN: big oil. Both political parties vow to come down hard on the oil industry after reports of record profits, while Americans continue to pay sticker shock at the pump.
Here is a sample of some of the rhetoric we’ve been hearing around Washington this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): ExxonMobile could realize billions of dollars of profit at the expense of American businesses and families. It’s time for us to step in and say that money’s coming back to the treasury and back to the consumers.
SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN): There are those who are taking advantage of consumers at the pump, taking advantage of the current situation to soak consumers. It must stop. And violators must be punished.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Mort, those guys. I mean, this is really Congress at its bipartisan worst. I mean, Dick Durbin and Bill Frist are two of the smartest guys in Congress. They know better than to say this stuff. I mean, come on. Scapegoating big oil, I mean, that’s ridiculous.
What needs to happen is — if you really want to increase supply, what you do is you allow exploration, which the oil companies would be happy to do. Exploration and drilling in the areas that are now prohibited, off the Atlantic Coast and the Pacific Coast, well off the coast; in the Gulf of Mexico, in the eastern Gulf of Mexico; and in Anwar. That is what you do. I mean, that’s just horrible.
KONDRACKE: Yes, one of your heroes, Thomas Sowell, the Stanford University professor, says that partisan demagoguery is bad enough, but this is bipartisan demagoguery.
I mean, look, as you’ve said, it’s a supply and demand problem basically. And I won’t go through all the details anymore.
But the other factor involved here is a lot of speculation. I mean, the speculators are anticipating that the price of oil is going to go up. They’re bidding it up. It does go up. And political panic in Washington only makes it go up all the more. It encourages the speculation.
BARNES: Well said.
All right, DOWN: House majority leader John Boehner. He’s off to a rocky start. The House GOP is as fractured as ever with no consensus in sight on the budget and immigration reform.
KONDRACKE: Well, Boehner’s...
BARNES: I know you’re down on Boehner.
KONDRACKE: Boehner’s a decent guy, but he’s been majority leader now for three months. There still is not a House agenda.
BARNES: You’re going to render a verdict already?
KONDRACKE: Well, you know, but there’s not an agenda. You’ve got to tell people what you’re going to do and start doing it.
They finally passed a very weak lobbying reform bill, which had been one of their first priorities. And they can’t pass the budget. They can’t get the votes together to pass the budget.
If you don’t have a budget, you don’t have any control on appropriations bills. That’s not a good beginning.
BARNES: Is that all? They can’t get a budget. Is that all there is?
The lobbying bill was actually stronger than it looked like it was going to be. And there’s one good thing in it. I mean, all that stuff about lobbyists is nonsense anyway.
What we need is congressional reform. And this bill would require an appropriations bill, anyway — that the earmarks, it would make it much harder to hide them. The author of the earmarks would unknown. And there’d be a process under which they could be stricken from the appropriations bill. So that’s not bad. I mean, that was only the House. I think the senate will go along. We may get that.
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