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17 days until the Republican convention 81 days until election day

NEWS SUMMARY

Your intense August Friday (the 13th!!!!) political menu:

1. Waiting for the next series of shoes to drop in the McGreevey matter. (Expect something in the form of an Israeli sandal … .)

2. Watching the press lack its Davenport-level excitement as Bush and Kerry face off in Pacific Time on a Friday in Portland, OR.

3. The new CBO study confirming Ron Brownstein's view that the Bush tax cuts have gone disproportionately to the wealthiest Americans. (And we wonder why today's newspaper stories focus more on the percentage of the tax burden than on the absolute micro and macro dollar figures, which are just as striking … )

4. The new Bush campaign ad, all morning-in-America-ish about the Olympics and actually containing the line "Freedom is spreading throughout the world like a sunrise."

5. New Gallup numbers showing a Bush job approval above 50 percent.

6. The tan, rested, and ready return of John Edwards to the campaign trail.

7. Continued confusion and unrest in Iraq.

8. The Googling monkeys spending the weekend doing finger paintings to decorate the Sheekey Bridge over 8th Avenue.

9. Elizabeth Edwards doing her first solo campaign tour as would-be Second Lady, and Jack and Emma Claire getting their first major profile.

10. Another taste of how weather, sports, and criminal trials can blot out politics in the news whenever they darn please.

We expect the Cipel suit against Gov. McGreevey to be filed in Mercer County this morning — unless it isn't. Gov. McGreevey and State Senate President Codey have no public events.

If there are national political implications to the McGreevey drama in the short term, we haven't located them yet.

No single news organization is out in front yet on fereting out the backstory, but the weekend papers will, we bet, explode with color and investigative nuggets.

Meanwhile, in presidential politics: Watch the banks!

President Bush and Sen. Kerry are both in Portland, OR, today, and the traveling press corps will be asking and thinking about this matter:

"Since 2001, President Bush's tax cuts have shifted federal tax payments from the richest Americans to a wide swath of middle-class families, the Congressional Budget Office has found, a conclusion likely to roil the presidential election campaign," writes the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman. LINK

"The CBO study, due to be released today, found that the wealthiest 20 percent, whose incomes averaged $182,700 in 2001, saw their share of federal taxes drop from 64.4 percent of total tax payments in 2001 to 63.5 percent this year. The top 1 percent, earning $1.1 million, saw their share fall to 20.1 percent of the total, from 22.2 percent."

"Girding for the study's release, Bush campaign officials have already begun dismissing it as 'the Democrat-requested report.'"

"'The CBO answers the questions they are asked,' said Terry Holt, a Bush campaign spokesman. 'To the extent the questions are shaded to receive a certain response, that's often the response you get.'"

Sen. Kerry brings his 15-day, 21-state, 5,000+-mile (8,000+ with Edwards' solo jaunts) post-convention tour to a close today when he holds a 3:15 pm ET rally at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Kerry begins his day in Springfield, OR, where he holds a front porch event at noon ET.

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