This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", December 31, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Our next three awards are the biggies. The Winner of the Year: the Iraqi people, for holding three successful elections and for being well on their way toward establishing a permanent government.

Mort, you know, there was a great moment in that first election on January 30, the first in a real election in Iraq maybe ever, in which...


BARNES: No, no, the finger was great too, the purple finger. But even at one point, a suicide bomber came and blew up a half a dozen people in a line waiting to vote. And then you know what happened?

The people, the people went back and lined up again, because they wanted to vote regardless of that. Real bravery.

KONDRACKE: Yes. Well, now the politicians in, in Iraq have got to be as good as their people. And the people risked their lives to run and to, and to, to vote in, in those elections. Now, the leaders of the, the various factions have got to get together and form an efficient government that is also respectful of minority rights and democracy.

BARNES: All right. Our runner-up for Winner of the Year, U-2 front man Bono, or, as Mort calls him, Bono, for his efforts on behalf of debt relief. And the guy comes to Washington for a concert and spends an hour and 45 minutes at lunch with President Bush. There’s a guy with influence.

KONDRACKE: Right. I agree.

BARNES: The Loser of the Year, Mort’s friends French President Jacques Chirac and former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Schroeder’s out of office; Chirac is still in office, and the where those riots really hurt him politically.

You know what his reelect number is? And in other words, the percentage of the French people who would like him to serve a new term?


BARNES: Indeed.

KONDRACKE: All right. I mean, they’re fundamental problem is that they’ve got this enormous welfare state, and they cannot convince their votes to, to peel it back. That’s what, that’s what defeated Schroeder.

And the "Beltway Boy" Person of the Year, actually, it’s People of the Year -- the American soldiers in Iraq. These are, these people, some of them, are on third and fourth tours in, in Iraq. By every account, their morale is high, they believe in what they’re doing, unlike a lot of people in Washington. You know, everybody wants them to come back home, and as President Bush says that the road back home is the road to victory.

And my prediction for the year is that we will achieve a victory, and they will be home in substantial numbers.

BARNES: Well, now, the soldiers know why they’re there, and they’re carrying out their work efficiently. All right.

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