ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News

"The day the earth stood still. On August 14, 2003 air conditioners, street lights and anything that needs power shut down when parts of the Northeast and Midwest power grid failed, stranding 50 million people in the worst blackout in U.S. history. Now a year later, nothing's changed.

We are just as vulnerable to a blackout. Our power supply is still unreliable and power companies unaccountable …

… so begins the radio ads US PIRG and Sierra Club and a coalition of 22 other national environmental organizations are running in in Ohio: (Akron, Canton and Toledo); and Michigan (Kalamazoo and Lansing), where power outages caused by the blackout in 2003 caused outages that lasted days.

The ads began airing yesterday and will run about 25 times a day in each market through Saturday. The goal is to urge the Bush Administration and Congressional leaders that the electricity grid is no more reliable than it was a year ago, counter Administration spin to advocating its own energy bill and urge support for the plan crafted by Rep. John Dingell and others to pass free standing electricity reliability legislation.

ABC News Vote 2004: Olympics and the battlegrounds:

Sports fans and devout, yet fatigued, Goggling monkeys alike need wait patiently no longer — your time has come: Summer Olympics 2004, The Last Anticipated Lull.

"The Games have always brought people together in peace to respect universal moral principles," states the official Olympics website — with a flickering promise of respite from international turmoil and polarization at home. LINK

In these times of international distraction — when the nation seems to live and breath to the tune of Vangelis — while who will take home the gold is still TBD, some predictions are safe.

One, it can already be predicted that terms of thematically epic proportions will flow like Gatorade; words like generation, legacy, century, hero, and patriotism will fall from sportscasters lips faster and easier than they can say "doping."

Two, both Democrats and Republicans will ponder and spin what, if anything 16 days of these words, and a corresponding spike in nationalism, will mean to America's own electoral decathlon.

Three, when the Olympics begin, news coverage will turn towards local Olympians, rolling out hours of Behind the Music-style storytelling.

Four, no one can predict how the nation will react if the booing of American athletes is widespread.

Meanwhile the Games will feature athletes with super human abilities from all over the world. And among those called to the duty of defending this Olympic legacy of centuries and generations of Americans will be the youth of Toledo, Tucson and Madison, to name a few places.

This in mind, The Note has put together a list of battleground athletes who, in the coming weeks, might expect lots of local media — and maybe even the coveted presidential congratulations call. (How medalling Olympians would react to hearing the words, "John Kerry is on the phone to congratulate you," is something we haven't figured out yet.)

The big four battlegrounds are listed first, followed by the others in alpha order, broken down by hometown. If yours is represented, expect to get a heavy dose of Olympics at the top of the hour.

(We bet Karl Rove already has this list, completely annotated with Greek cell phone numbers.)



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