This partial transcript of The Beltway Boys, Feb. 23, was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST:  All right, Ups and Downs.  You ready?


Up: President Bush

BARNES:  Good.  Up, President Bush.  Bush manages to strike the delicate diplomatic balance between not backing away from his "axis of evil" statement in regard to North Korea while assuaging the concerns of ally South Korea.  Here's Bush.


BUSH:  In order to make sure there's sunshine, there needs to be two people, two sides involved.  And I praise the president's efforts.  And I wonder out loud why the North Korean president won't accept the gesture of goodwill that the South Korean president has so rightfully offered.


BARNES:  You know, it's fortunate that I have the answer to the president’s question.  He wonders why the North Koreans act like it, that's  because they're communist, communist troglodytes.  They are card-carrying  members of the axis of evil.  And the president didn't need to back down  from calling it an axis of evil, because the North Koreans played right  into his hand, and it – and acted that way.

Now, the Chinese were a little different.  They didn't complain about  Bush's speech about religious liberty and how it should be allowed in  China.  On the other hand, they didn't give an inch either on exactly that  subject.  Remember, Jiang Zemin, the president, said, Well, we didn't jail  the Catholic bishops because of – on religious grounds, it's because they  had committed other crimes.  Yeah, what, jaywalking?


BARNES:  I mean, come on.

KONDRACKE:  I – look, I think this was a minimally successful  presidential visit, not one of, not one, not one of the all-stars.  Look...

BARNES:  All I said was moderately successful.

KONDRACKE:  Yes, OK, well...

BARNES:  I wasn't...

KONDRACKE:  ... he, he did not get a single political prisoner freed.   That usually happens.  He did not get the Chinese to back off at all on  their supplying nukes and missiles...

BARNES:  Not nukes.

KONDRACKE:  That – nuclear, nuclear assistance.  They do for Iran,  for...

BARNES:  You made it sound like nuclear weapons.

KONDRACKE:  Well, evil axis countries, they are...

BARNES:  I'm not for it.

KONDRACKE:  ... assisting evil axis countries...


KONDRACKE:  ... and he didn't get them to back off that.  And he did,  in saying that there was no contradiction between North Korea's being an  evil axis country and Kim Dae Jung's sunshine diplomacy...


KONDRACKE:  ... sort of back away from the...

BARNES:  No, no, no, no, no.

KONDRACKE:  ... from the, from the evil axis...


BARNES:  ... no backpedaling at all.  None.

KONDRACKE:  ... and he was, and he was interpreted as, as, as such.

BARNES:  By, by whom?

KONDRACKE:  By a lot of the press...

BARNES:  Well, I didn't see any of it.  I read the press.

KONDRACKE:  Well, I'll tell you, it was there.


KONDRACKE:  You – I'm surprised you didn't see it.

Up: Vice President Dick Cheney 

KONDRACKE:  Anyway, up, Vice President Dick Cheney.  Cheney comes out of hiding  big-time, double-teaming with Bush on axis of evil talk, stumping for  Republican candidates in California, and even showing off his deadpan  humor.  Watch.


JAY LENO, HOST:  Mr. Vice President? Mr. Cheney?

Not in there.

Not there either.

Mr. Vice President?

Mr. Vice President?

CHENEY:  Just what the country needs, another undisclosed location  joke.


BARNES:  That was better than his joke when he skewered Lieberman in  the debate in 2000.

KONDRACKE:  Yes, yes, I know.


KONDRACKE:  You know, I have theory that what – when 9/11 happened,  the president and Cheney got together and they decided that Cheney was  getting all this attention as the genius behind the – what administration  policy was going to be, and that that was bad for U.S. diplomacy and  leadership in the world, and that Cheney would back off and go to  undisclosed location.  Bush would be clearly the leader of the United, of  the United States of America, and it would be clear to the world that –  who was in charge, as has happened.

Now that everybody's aware that Bush is in charge, now Cheney is  reemerging, he's going to do a lot of politicking, 50 to 60 visits this  year.  And he's the one who's going off on the 50 – on the 11-country...

BARNES:  Right.

KONDRACKE:  ... visit to the Middle East...


KONDRACKE:  ... which is really a get-Saddam organization drive.

BARNES:  Yes.  Mort, you know, I've known you so many years.  That is  one of the most cynical things I've ever...

KONDRACKE:  Not cynical at all.

BARNES:  ... now, wait a minute – cynical things you've ever said.   What you're saying is that the Bush administration purposely hid Dick  Cheney because they needed to do that, otherwise people wouldn't think that  George Bush was in charge as president.  Look, wartime presidents don't  need to hide their vice presidents.  People forget about their vice  presidents automatically.

Bush exerted strong leadership, he would have whether Cheney was there  or not.  I mean, Mort, please, that is...


KONDRACKE:  ... I'm not, I'm not...

BARNES:  ... so cynical.

KONDRACKE:  Believe me –  It is not cynical!  I'm, I'm-

BARNES:  It is.

KONDRACKE:  ... I'm saying it was smart, it was smart, and a smart  effort to establish Bush...


KONDRACKE:  ... who was not a well-versed foreign policy figure, and  it would have been charged...


KONDRACKE:  ... that Cheney was running things...

BARNES:  All right, I...

KONDRACKE:  ... and he's clearly not.

BARNES:  ... I'm moving on.  This'll be to your benefit.

KONDRACKE:  All right, all right.

Down: California Congressman Gary Condit 

BARNES:  Down, California Congressman Gary Condit.  Facing defeat in  November, Congress – Condit tries a new Hail Mary tactic, telling voters  that his reelection is the only hope for finding missing intern Chandra  Levy.  In an interview with Mort's newspaper, Roll Call, Condit says,  quote, "The best thing that can happen to the investigation is that I get  reelected, because only I will keep the heat on.  If I don't get reelected,  you guys won't ever write about it again," unquote.

Now, Mort, that's even more cynical than what you said.

KONDRACKE:  Yes, well, unfortunately, he's probably right, if he, if  there's no Condit, Chandra Levy will be forgotten.  That's not a good  reason to vote for him.

BARNES:  All right.

Down: Hollywood

KONDRACKE:  Down, Hollywood.  After three months of pledging its in –  three months after, I mean, its, pledging its enthusiastic support behind  the American war effort, Hollywood's patriotic fervor has been reduced to  complimentary Shrek videos and tri – and free admission to theme parks  on the family – by the families of military personnel.  No nation- affirming documentaries, and no effort to burnish the country's image  overseas.

This surprises me.  I mean, patriotism sells, as...


KONDRACKE:  ... is demonstrated by any number of movies and TV shows  that were in train before September 11 happened – 24, it's a great show  on, on FOX, JAG has been on forever, even West Wing is a patriotic  show.  I mean, the country wants more of that.  So I'm surprised that  Hollywood didn't give it to them.

BARNES:  Yes, yes, yes, West Wing is a liberal show.  The...

KONDRACKE:  So what?  It's still patriotic.


BARNES:  ... look, I went to see that Arnold Schwarzenegger thing –  show, Collateral Damage.  The terrorists are the bad guys, but so are the  American – so's the American government.

KONDRACKE:  Old, old...

BARNES:  That's not patriotism.

KONDRACKE:  ... old formula.


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