Ups and Downs for the Week of January 16

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", January 21, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "The Beltway Boys" Saturday at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday at 1 and 6 a.m. EST.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Let’s check our ups and downs.

DOWN: Usama bin Laden. Some of his top terror buddies were snuffed out in an air strike in Pakistan, and now the terror mastermind is offering a truce to America.

Now, I know that you think that this, this offer that he made was a sign of weakness, but, you know, I’m afraid that that interpretation is going to fuel the complacency about terrorism that leads Democrats and some Republicans to say that we don’t need the NSA spying program, which is quite effective, and we don’t need the explanation, the extension of the Patriot Act .

BARNES, CO-HOST: Yes, well, I understand that concern, but I think you can distinguish between a real threat of terrorism and an audiotape from Usama bin Laden that doesn’t mean a whole lot.

I’d like to hear from Congressman John Murtha and and Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean, who were the ones who say we’re losing in Iraq. I want them to explain, well, why, if we’re losing, why is Usama bin Laden suing for peace, which he essentially is, asking for a truce?

You don’t ask for a truce if you’re winning, that’s for sure. But he’s asking for one. And you know, I’m still a little dubious of whether he’s the really the one on this tape or not. But, you know, I’ve heard from the Justice Department and the CIA, and they think he is.

My question is, why not a videotape? If he’s a vibrant leader of these, and not some guy who’s living in a cave in Afghanistan, you know, why didn’t he go in? It’s not hard to make a videotape. Why doesn’t he do that? His number two guy, Zawahiri, has done that recently, although I think a couple days ago he had an audiotape. He does a videotape.

It raises, I think, serious questions about the state of Usama bin Laden. All right.

DOWN: Al Gore. His speech before the liberal group confirms what’s been long suspected of the former vice president. He’s officially lost it.

Here’s just a part of his speech. Watch.


FORMER VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: If the president has the inherent authority to eavesdrop on American citizens without a warrant, imprison American citizens on his own declaration, kidnap and torture, then what can’t he do?


BARNES: You know, Gore goes on in that speech to quote from a Yale law professor who gives the answer to that.

KONDRACKE: The dean of the Yale Law School . Go ahead.

BARNES: Well, all right, that’s who he quotes, allegedly, anyway. But that if the president can decide on his own, you know, about torture or something, then what else can he do? Well, the answer is, commit genocide, sanction slavery, promote apartheid, and license summary execution. You know, executions, right there on the sunrise-yellow rug in the Oval Office.

I mean, come on, I mean, this stuff is just, is just crazy. And I’m surprised that a major Democratic figure like Al Gore, no dummy, has really gone to those depths to be saying stuff like that.

And, you know, Gore also talked about how the president had, there were previously unrecognized powers that he claimed, you know, for the NSL, NSA, wiretapping, that these were powers that were claimed by the Clinton-Gore administration.

KONDRACKE: Yes, you know, Gore went on to say, "Now, don’t misunderstand me, terrorism is a real threat. And I would deal with it sternly"...


KONDRACKE: ... except that he wants to take away the power to, for wiretapping, the NSA tapping, or whatever you call it, data mining that is one of the most effective measures that we have. In fact, he wants to prosecute Bush for doing it. And if you read between the lines, basically implying that, that Bush ought to be impeached for exercising these powers.

You know, what I think is that Congress should check out whether Bush actually had the authority to do this, and if it finds that he didn’t have the authority, should give it to him.

BARNES: You know, I have looked into the question of why hasn’t the administration asked Congress to enact and change the law that would allow explicitly things like these NSA wiretappings now, that one end is somebody with, you know, connected to terrorism, and on the other end is somebody in the United States.

And here’s what happened. This was something in 2004 that was actually talked about and considered by the Bush administration. They talked to people in Congress about it. And the consensus was that if they did it, if they tried to change the law, it would become public, the whole wiretap program would become public, and they didn’t want to do it.

Of course, it became public when The New York Times exposed it sometime last December.

KONDRACKE: That’s why I think they should do it now.

UP: Newly inaugurated Virginia governor, Democrat Tim Kaine. Move over, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. National Democrats tap this red state governor to deliver the party’s response to Bush’s upcoming State of the Union address.

BARNES: Look, this is tough, responding to a State of the Union. But this is a smart move by Democrats. Tim Kaine’s appealing, and he’s a guy that talked about his Christian faith, a Democrat, who did during the campaign. He’s made one mistake as governor now in a week, and that is to handle the traffic congestion, which is terrible in Virginia. He wants to curb development. You need to lay asphalt, you need more lanes on the highways, governor.

KONDRACKE: Well, you know, this is the Democrats playing Halloween masquerade, you know, they put out a moderate red state newly elected governor instead of the real powers of the Democratic Party, Pelosi and Harry Reid. It reminds me of the same masquerade, the kind of masquerade that President Bush puts on when he poses a compassionate conservative.

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