Ups and Downs for the Week of Nov.12-17

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This partial transcript of The Beltway Boys, November 17, 2001 was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.

Up, President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: They didn't get a deal on missile defense, but the two leaders did see eye to eye on the war on terror, the need to reduce their countries' nuclear stockpiles, and their unique friendship.  Listen to the way Bush described this friendship.  And he means it, Mort.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  There's no doubt the United States and Russia won't agree on every issue.  But you probably don't agree with your mother on every issue.  You still love her, though, don't you?  Well, even though we don't agree on every issue, I still respect him and like him as a person.


BARNES:  Now, I do agree with my mother on every issue, but that's beside the point.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST:  And she's watching, too.

BARNES:  Yes, of course she is.

Now, look, the -- they really did three things there, and succeeded in all of them.   One, Bush wanted to lock in Putin and his decision to throw in with the United States and the West and not try to form some alliance against United States hegemony, as you like to call it, or superpower status.  He certainly reaffirmed that Putin is fully involved in the war against terrorism, and then they locked in this -- again, their -- this wonderful friendship.

Now, there have been some critics who say that these guys are faking it, it's not genuine.  But Mort, it is genuine.  These guys like each other, and that matters.

And it's so extraordinary, a Russian president and an American president.  Think about it.

KONDRACKE:  Fred Barnes, you're almost going as ga-ga as Bush is.  Now, look, this could be -- this was a love fest, and it could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.  What I suspect is, though, that Russia will end up getting more out of it than, than the United States...

BARNES:  Well, they need more.

KONDRACKE:  ... the United States.  But would you explain one thing to me?  At a time of terrorism when the Russians have nuclear weapons that are not well guarded, why on earth is the Bush administration cutting back on the funding for the Nunn-Lugar program, which would secure these weapons?  I don't understand that.

BARNES:  They're giving all the money that the Russians will use at this time.  They will -- they'll spend as much as the Russians will allow them to give them to do this.

KONDRACKE:  I suspect not.

BARNES:  You got that.

KONDRACKE:  I don't believe it.

OK, up, House minority leader Dick Gephardt.

Gephardt, who's been clamoring for an aviation bill for weeks, wins a major ideological battle with congressional Republicans this week, the federalization of some 28,000 baggage and passenger screeners.  Our latest Fox News poll shows that a majority thinks that airline travel will be very or somewhat safe, but the number of people who think that air travel is very safe fell 5 points last week.

And I have to say, I agree with them.  The inspector general of the Transportation Department cited something like 90 cases of breaches of security.  We just had a big one at Hartsfield Airport.

The good news about this airline security bill is that it will -- these screeners will be able to be fired if they're incompetent...


KONDRACKE:  ... and also there's an escape hatch that if federalization doesn't work, we can go back to some sort of private federalized system.

BARNES:  OK, I can live with this legislation.

Now, Mort, I have a question for you.  President Bush met Gephardt and Democrats more than halfway.  As a war president, he is being very bipartisan.  But what is the matter with Senate majority leader Tom Daschle?  He won't meet the president halfway on any economic stimulus package, and he's also allowing Democrats to run these rolling holes on nominees like John Walters to be the drug czar.  He's already been reported out by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Why won't Tom Daschle be a war majority leader and act the way the president is?

KONDRACKE:  Fred, I completely agree with you.


KONDRACKE:  He should do all those things.  He just learned everything he's doing now from your pal Jesse Helms.

BARNES:  Now, Jesse Helms wouldn't be doing it in this situation, that's for sure.  OK.

Down, the American Red Cross.

Under pressure from Congress and our own Bill O'Reilly, the Red Cross finally does the right thing and give all of the monies collected after the 9/11 attacks directly to victims' families.

Now, listen to the head of the Red Cross now stating the obvious.


HAROLD DECKER, RED CROSS INTERIM CEO:  America has spoken loudly and clearly, and that America wants our Liberty relief efforts directed solely at the affected -- people affected by the September 11 tragedies.  We deeply regret that our activities over the past eight weeks have not been as sharply focused as America wants, and the victims of this tragedy deserve.


BARNES:  Do you really think that their problem was that they were, quote, "not sharply focused"?  They were -- unfortunately they were sharply focused on not turning all over the money, turning it all over to the families of the victims.  But they've corrected it.

KONDRACKE:  Well, Bernadine Healey got fired as president of the Red Cross over this thing.  But I've got to say one thing in her defense.  She was trying to pressure the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to admit the Israeli equivalent of, of the Red Cross, which the American Red Cross historically and even now, apparently, is not willing to continue doing.

Until the United States, American Red Cross, makes it clear that it's for the Israeli Red Cross, it gets none of my money.

BARNES:  I agree.

Down, ABC News and Disney

KONDRACKE:   Down, ABC, pardon me, the, the network, and Disney, the parent company.  They're hitting a new low in the race for ratings, airing a 60-minute infomercial complete with half-naked models, the 2001 Virginia -- Victoria's Secret fashion show.

Now, you know, hide your eyes, Fred, OK?  You're not supposed to watch this.

BARNES:  I don't get to watch the monitor?

KONDRACKE:  Yes.  I mean, the fact is that this was a new low on several grounds.  One, you know, it was a -- it was an hour of practically full nudity, and I must say that the other networks followed suit with their own kind of rinky-dink programming to compete with it.

The only thing, and then you had, you know, basically two hours that ABC and Disney handed over to Victoria's Secret...

BARNES:  Right.

KONDRACKE:  ... in order, you know, a, a, a, a, a company for an infomercial.  All I can say is, the only good news here is that Al Jazeera did not cover this as a news story.  I mean, it would have been dynamite in the Arab world, proving to those people that they're just as decadent as we -- as they think we are.

BARNES:  Mort, I know you could go on, but you could go on much longer, but believe me, your reputation as a prude is safe.


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