Ups and Downs for the Week of Feb. 24-28

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This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, March 1, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Mort, time for the Ups and Downs .


DOWN: Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix

You need a scorecard to keep track of all the contradictory statements he's made this week, from talking about Iraq not having made a fundamental decision to disarm, and then praising Iraq for destroying those Al Samoud missiles, and next week his report looks to be more of the same.

BARNES: OK, you sure he's down, now?

KONDRACKE: He's down.


KONDRACKE: But the guy who's up, unfortunately, is Saddam Hussein...

BARNES: Yes, I know.

KONDRACKE: ... who is playing the U.N. Security Council and Hans Blix like a, like a violin. And, you know, destroying these, these missiles is just another Iraqi stunt, but it strengthened the hand of the anti-U.S. forces on the Security Council. We have our, our little scorecard here, which we can, which we can put up.

The United States has four votes, including its own...

BARNES: Right, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... it needs nine in order to get the second, the second U.N. resolution through. I'm beginning to think that this whole second resolution idea was, was a big mistake.

BARNES: Yes, yes, remember where you heard that first?

KONDRACKE: Yes, from you. All right.

BARNES: Yes, from me. Of course it's a mistake. The first vote, the vote on the first resolution, was a mistake. Going to the U.N....

KONDRACKE: No, it wasn't.

BARNES: ... it turns out...

KONDRACKE: No, it wasn't.

BARNES: Oh, no, no. Now, look...

KONDRACKE: Fourteen forty-one was good.

BARNES:, no, no. Mort, Mort, Mort, wait a minute. What's happened is that once you get started, you get bogged down in this morass of U.N. process, exactly where the French want us to be, and it will continue with endless inspections, and that's what they like. It's just hard to get out of it.

And, and seriously, Mort, should the decision on whether to oust a rogue state dictator like Saddam Hussein, destroy his weapons of mass destruction, and free the 24 million Iraqi people from the torment of, of Saddam, should that be decided by the vote of Angola or Cameroon or Guinea? Come on, now. It -- I mean, this is absolutely absurd. All right.

I'm, I'm not going to allow you to respond.

UP: CBS newsman Dan Rather

BARNES: He lands a huge interview with Saddam Hussein, the, the Iraqi dictator's first sit-down in 13 years, sending CBS's competitors and the White House scrambling. But some commentators weren't too impressed. Mort, check out Conan O'Brien's reaction.


CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST: Yesterday's big story, CBS anchor Dan Rather scored an exclusive interview with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. This is big, this is big. Yes, true story. Yes, when asked what it's like to talk to a crazy person, Saddam said, "It's really not so bad."




BARNES: Yes. Anyway, look, some people worried that Saddam was going to be a great propagandist, and Tom Shales of The Washington Post even said that. I mean, no political consultant, even the best one, couldn't make him persuasive or look good. I mean, he looks like a mass murderer, which he is.

He said at one point that the Iraqi people are not the enemy of the American people, and he's right about that. But the Iraqi people have an enemy. It's Saddam himself.

KONDRACKE: Yes. Well, and Saddam -- I could not get over how, how often Saddam acted like Billy Graham. I mean, you know, all the God and Allah and all that stuff...

BARNES: Yes, oh, I know, I -- yes.

KONDRACKE: ... it was, it was pretty disgusting.


KONDRACKE: And, but, and Rather, Rather deserves credit.


KONDRACKE: I mean, some conservatives have been, been after Rather for even doing the interview.

BARNES: No, but I haven't been.

KONDRACKE: But he just -- I know. But he deserves credit for getting the interview...And, and, you know, you'd get, you'd take the interview, I'd take the interview.

BARNES: Of course, yes.

KONDRACKE: Matter of fact, if Saddam wants to come on The Beltway Boys , he's welcome.


KONDRACKE: But he would have -- he would get a lot harder-ball questions than he got from Rather, questions about torture, questions about gassing the Kurds, questions about...attacking Iran...Iran, Iraq...

BARNES: ...Kuwait...

KONDRACKE: ...Kuwait...

BARNES: And bombing Israel...

KONDRACKE: ... assassination of -- attempted assassination, George, George Bush's father...


KONDRACKE: ... et cetera. So, anyway.

UP: Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry

KONDRACKE: He's missed some important Democratic cattle calls in recent weeks due to his prostate surgery, but that has not slowed the perception, at least by the media, that Kerry is indeed the front-runner in the Democratic presidential field.

Kerry is ahead in New Hampshire, which you would expect from somebody who's from next-door Massachusetts. He's also only a shade behind Dick Gephardt in, in the polls in, in Iowa, where Gephardt is -- needs to win. Kerry's got loads of money. He's able to buy up talent. And his latest coup was getting Bob Shrum, Democratic consultant...


KONDRACKE: ... and Shrum's partners, the talented Tad Devine...


KONDRACKE: ... and, and Mike Donellan, as -- to, to work for him, and stealing them away from John Edwards. Big coup.

BARNES: ...his other coup was getting Adam Nigourney of The New York Times to declare him the front runner. Now, Adam's a very good reporter, and, and we obviously agree with his assessment. But have, having it in The New York Times matter.

Getting Bob Shrum also matters. Shrum's a great consultant. But Shrum wants to be with the winner, so he obviously thinks that Kerry has a lot better chance than John Edwards, who he was flirting with, to -- And I agree with him as well.

UP: Actor and former Sen. Fred Thompson

BARNES: Take that, Martin Sheen. Thompson answer's Sheen's antiwar TV ads with an ad of his own supporting President Bush's Iraq policy. Watch.


FRED THOMPSON, FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: With all the criticism of our president's policy on Iraq lately, Americans might ask, What should we do with the inevitable prospect of nuclear weapons in the hands of a murderous and aggressive enemy? Can we afford to appease Saddam, kick the can down the road?

Thank goodness we have a president with the courage to protect our country.

And when people ask, What has Saddam done to us? I ask, what had the 9/11 hijackers done to us, before 9/11?


BARNES: Remember, Mort, Ronald Reagan used to say, You know, having been an actor really comes in handy in politics. And being an actor really comes in handy for Fred Thompson here. That was a good ad.

Now I want to hear ads from the other celebrities, actors, you know, who are supporting Bush in the war against Iraq. There's Tom Cruise, there's Steven Spielberg, the director, of course, there's Dennis Miller, the new conservative hero all over America, Ron Silver. I want to hear from them as well.


BARNES: Oh, and by the way, I suspect that Jay Leno and even David Letterman are secret Bush supporters on a war with Iraq.

KONDRACKE: Yes, I, I have to say, I didn't think that that ad was, was all that great. I think there should have been take one, or take two, or take three, or take four. I mean, Fred Thompson, much as he is in Law and Order ...

BARNES: The TV show.

KONDRACKE: ... has lost -- his, his, his TV show that, that he's, he plays a prosecutor on -- he needs more energy.

BARNES: Mort, have you ever heard the word "quibble"?



KONDRACKE: Yes, I've heard the word "quibble."

BARNES: Yes, get...

KONDRACKE: I'm doing drama criticism, and I'm entitled to it do it.

BARNES: ...all right.

KONDRACKE: Go ahead.

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