Ups and Downs for the Week of July 29 - August 2

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, August 3, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: OK, let's go to the Ups and Downs.

DOWN: Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill

KONDRACKE: O'Neill finds himself in the middle of yet another public relations mess, this time for saying that Brazil and other Latin American countries can't be trusted with international aid.

Here's O'Neill's comment on FOX News Sunday, and White House spokesman Ari Fleischer's doing some cleanup.


PAUL O'NEILL, TREASURY SECRETARY: They need to put in place policies that will assure that as assistance money comes, that it does some good and it doesn't just go out of the country to Swiss bank accounts.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: The president and this administration have great confidence in Brazil and its economic team.  Brazil has demonstrated its ability to use international monetary assistance effectively, and they have sound economic policies that are in place.

The United States will continue to support international financial assistance to Brazil...


PAUL GIGOT, GUEST CO-HOST: Mort, the secretary of the Treasury committed the gaffe of telling the truth when he talked about flight of capital out of Brazil this week. But he's the international spokesman of economic…, the Treasury secretary, and he ended up spooking capital markets. And you really can't do that. And in the end, he had to basically reverse his position, ended up giving money to Brazil.

KONDRACKE: Yes. I find Paul O'Neill wonderfully honest and refreshing. I, you know, I — he said at one point when the, when the Republicans were pushing big tax cuts that this was political posturing. Actually it was more than that, but it was also policy.

But the fact is that the president needs — every administration needs an esteemed, dependable chief economic spokesman, and this administration doesn't really have one. So the president is sort of forced to do it himself.

And when the, when there's one of these corporate prep walks, you know, the president has got to cheer it along. And when — and he's the one who's got to talk up the economy and stuff like that.

So my guess is that there'll be a replacement along the way sooner or later.

GIGOT: Probably right.

DOWN: Former Vice President Al Gore

Centrist Democrats, including Gore's former running mate, Senator Joe Lieberman, take turns blaming Gore for losing the White House in 2000, claiming it was Gore's liberal class warfare rhetoric that sunk the party.

Lieberman told reporters, "That was not the New Democrat approach. It made it more difficult for us to gain the support of middle- class independent voters who don't see America as us-versus-them."

KONDRACKE: I got to say that the Democrats want to have it both ways.  I mean, they don't — they want to say, We're not fighting class warfare.  But then they turn around and they're attacking HMOs, drug companies, the insurance industry, corporations in general, rich people.

I mean, they, they, they, they want to be freed from the accusation that they're conducting class warfare, but it's pretty close.

GIGOT: It sure sounds like and quacks like class warfare, Mort. And when it does mean, I think the voters interpret it that way.

And I think you got to give Joe Lieberman credit for speaking up on that, because we have this political environment now where everybody's anti-business, or there's a real flurry of, of, of anti-corporate populism out there. And, and Lieberman stood up and said, Wait a minute, that didn't work for us in 2000. It's not going to work for us in 2002.

The thing is, most Democrats now agree with Al Gore, and, and I think it's going to be interesting to see if that works this time.

KONDRACKE: Unfortunately for Lieberman, I think Al Gore is definitely going to run for president, and there, and Lieberman is going to stick to his promise that if Gore runs, he's not going to run.

That's too bad. I mean, the, the New Democrats need a representative in the race.

GIGOT: Be a good debate.

DOWN: New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli

GIGOT: Already locked in a tight reelection battle, the Torch gets slapped by the Senate Ethics Committee, citing his, quote unquote, "poor judgment" and failure to heed Senate rules in accepting expensive gifts from contributor David Chang.

Here's Torricelli on the Senate floor Tuesday.


SEN. ROBERT TORRICELLI (D), NEW JERSEY: I want my colleagues in the Senate to know that I agree with the committee's conclusions, fully accept their findings, and take full personal responsibility. It has always been my contention that I believe that at no time did I accept any gifts or violate any Senate rules.


GIGOT: Mort, the Ethics Committee basically decided that Senator Torricelli had lied about accepting, about accepting gifts from, from David Chang. So New Jersey ought to be a safe Democratic seat, particularly with the hapless position of the Republican Party in New Jersey, which hasn't won a statewide race in quite a long time.

But because of this ethics business, I think the Republicans have a really good shot at a pickup if they run any kind of a decent campaign.

KONDRACKE: Right, the latest poll shows that, that whereas the race was, was a 5-point Torricelli lead over Doug Forrester — now it's down, down to even. I got to say that that was priceless, the — and, and vintage Torricelli. I mean, it was sort of a direct contradiction, the two parts of it. It was like a, like a, a one- piece sound bite oxymoron, or, or non sequitur.

I mean, on one hand, he says, I accept what the, what, what the, the committee said, and the other hand said, I didn't accept any gifts, which is what the committee said.

UP: Bruce Springsteen

KONDRACKE: The Boss's latest album was released this week to much media fanfare, including a Time magazine cover. "The Rising" pays tribute to everyday heroes and victims of the 9/11 attacks, many of them from Springsteen's hometown, home state of New Jersey.

I got to say, I tried to buy this album, can't find it. I will. But I've read some of the lyrics, and some, some of them are absolutely wonderful, and there's one song called "Empty Sky" in which the singer is looking over at where the, the World Trade Center used to be, and he says, "I want a, I want a kiss from your lips, and I want an eye for an eye."

That's dynamite.

GIGOT: I didn't know you were such a rock and roll fan, Mort. I haven't heard the album either yet, and I have to admit, I stopped listening to Bruce Springsteen after "Rosalita" about, about 20 years ago.

But there's no question that he's one of the few rock and roll people who could, who could get away with identifying himself with this kind of popular mood, because he's sort of the blue collar troubadour.

Look, he's from New Jersey. If the Democrats in that state are smart, they'll dump Senator Torricelli and run Bruce Springsteen.

KONDRACKE: Now we got a, got a draft going here.

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