This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, September 14, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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

UP: Republicans

KONDRACKE: The GOP is coming out of this week's primaries with a head of steam and is competitive or better in Senate races in North Carolina and New Hampshire and the governor's races in Florida and Maryland.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: And in California, not through a primary but because a court overturned the fraud judgment against Bill Simon's company, Bill Simon's the Republican candidate, get this cloud off of him, and will give him at least a chance to get on offense against Gray Davis, the Democratic governor there. He's still a long shot.

New Hampshire, John Sununu, Jr., won the primary there. He stands the best chance of being Jeanne Shaheen, the governor, who's running for the Senate, holding that seat for the GOP. Maryland, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the lieutenant governor running for governor, you know, some members of her campaign didn't even know she had a primary opponent, some no-name, who got 20-plus percent, showing some weakness there.

And then, you know, in Florida, where Bill McBride just barely beat Janet Reno and she's contesting it, and because there's this dispute and all this irregularities in the voting patterns, machines and all, denies him real momentum, the rocket shot coming out of that primary. He's now going to face Jeb Bush.

KONDRACKE: Well, you know, the conventional wisdom about this Florida voting mess, the disaster redux, is that it embarrasses Jeb Bush and it help, and it helps the Democrats get out their, their, their base vote.  But if I were the Democrats, I'd be worried. Look, you've got these big counties, Miami-Dade and, and Broward County, heavy Democratic counties run by Democrats, and you can't get your voters through the polls...


KONDRACKE: ... you can't get your vote counted. If that's the case, you know, you, you can't win elections.

So Terry McAuliffe, instead of, you know, badgering Jeb Bush about this, had better get a get out the vote and get the voters trained campaign going down there.

BARNES: All right. Mort, here's one I didn't think I'd be saying again.

DOWN: Bill Clinton

BARNES: He takes his post-presidency behavior to a new low after using The Late Show With David Letterman as a platform to pontificate on U.S. Iraq policy. Here's Letterman's take on Clinton's comments.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: You know what I think?


LETTERMAN: I think you may still be president.

CLINTON: No. No, no, I'm not.

LETTERMAN: What it sounds like to me.

CLINTON: No, when you're president, you learn to act like you know what you're talking about, you see? It's a great skill, and you don't lose it overnight. It sort of drifts away from you over the decades.


BARNES: Clinton has gone from commander in chief to kibitzer in chief. And Mort, what I want to know is, what happened to that decent interval that former presidents used to honor after they leave office … a decent interval for years before they get back into public affairs and start criticizing their successors?

KONDRACKE: Well, I think in this case, Clinton simply couldn't restrain himself. I mean, he had to have the last word on September 11, and he went on a, on a trivial venue, in a trivial venue, the, the David Letterman show, to have that last word, and then he sort of defensively said, well, he'd done everything that was humanly possible to do to thwart Usama bin Laden...

BARNES: Which wasn't true.

KONDRACKE: Right. And he said that, you know, and he, and he questioned Bush's policy on Iraq. It was a distinctly unprofessional — unpresidential performance.

DOWN: Former South African president Nelson Mandela

In an interview with Newsweek magazine, Mandela brands the U.S. a, quote/unquote, "threat to world peace," and says that America's Iraq policy is based on economic interests. Quote, "It's clearly a decision that's motivated by George W. Bush's desire to please the arms and oil industries in the United States of America."

Now, Nelson Mandela is a great man, but, you know, even great men sometimes go astray. For example, Mahatma Gandhi advised the Jews of Europe to practice nonviolent civil disobedience against Hitler. Dumb.  And Martin Luther King never really understood the threat that communism posed to the world.

So Mandela's following in a tradition.

BARNES: You have some other examples I think you ought to …. How about Jimmy Carter, you're — now that you're here smashing icons, I like it, very good, I endorse everything you said.

UP: TV news media's coverage of the 9/11 anniversary

BARNES: The cable news channels and networks strike just the right tone on 9/11, proving skeptics like myself wrong that wall-to-wall coverage would be exploitative or would overexpose painful images from the attacks.

KONDRACKE: The best I saw, actually...

BARNES: Well, you were kind of a skeptic too, weren't you?

KONDRACKE: I was. The best I saw, and there was a lot of good stuff, besides Fox News's coverage, of course...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... was the CBS special on the, the, the 9/11 White House, what — moment by moment interview with Bush and all that. It was riveting stuff. And the other, the other thing was PBS Frontline did two wonderful documentaries, one on how we beat the Taliban, with difficulty, at least in the early going, and the second one was on the religious significance of 9/11, which is a standalone, wonderful special.

BARNES: No, I missed those. But on — the CBS show was done, the reporter there was Scott Pelley, did a great job. I was really knocked out by it.

Bret Baier did a great piece on Fox with the Pentagon correspondent about the operations on the ground in Afghanistan.

And you know what I liked the most, though? It was just those endless shots of President Bush meeting, shaking hands, hugging people at the Pentagon, at Shanksville, Penn., where that flight went down, and at ground zero, very, very, very moving.

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