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6 days until the Democratic convention 41 days until the Republican convention 105 days until election day

NEWS SUMMARY: At this writing, neither of the two presidential campaigns has responded to the news that Clinton national security adviser (and Kerry campaign adviser) Sandy Berger is the focus of a criminal probe regarding the removal of documents related to terrorism from the National Archives.

Since this appears to otherwise be another day of quiet-before-the-Democratic-convention-storm, the collected energies and passions of the Gang of 500 will be devoted to speculating about the answers to some questions about the Berger matter.

Some of these questions are non-partisan and shared throughout the Gang.

But others are hyper-partisan, and remind us all — as if any reminder were needed — that in 50-50, Red/Blue America, political elites feel they must be braced at all times for some external event to come crashing into the news cycle and, through some Rube Goldberg contraption LINK of democracy, affect the real votes of real voters.

The Associated Press broke the story after the Monday evening network newscasts, and/but a slow overnight news cycle was dominated in all media by the repetition of the same basic facts over and over.

Of the major dailies, only USA Today saw fit to scrap the afternoon planning meeting plan and rip up the front page.

But rest assured, distrustful Republicans: Tuesday evening newscasts and Wednesday papers are going to be all over this.

GOPers are all about accountability; Democrats are all about fanning the flames of "suspicious" timing.

The question for Justice Department reporters is how much they can advance the narrative.

The question for political reporters is how, if at all, does this enter the campaign dialogue.

We came in this morning and asked the Googling monkeys for the answers to those questions, and they shrugged the shrug they shrug when they don't know.

And neither do we . . .

Real voters go to the polls today in Georgia and North Carolina for senatorial and gubernatorial primaries. Polls in Georgia close at 7:00 pm ET; polls in North Carolina close at 7:30 pm ET.

President Bush meets privately with his economic advisers this morning before traveling to the Midwest for two appearances: a 1:40 pm ET "Ask the president" event in Cedar Rapids followed by a 6:30 pm ET campaign rally in St. Charles, Mo. Both Barbara and Jenna Bush are out on the trail with their father.

The expected Democratic ticket is down today: Senator John Kerry is in Nantucket and Senator John Edwards is in Washington, D.C.

New state employment numbers are expected at 10:00 am ET today from the Labor Department.

The Senate considers the nomination of William Meyers of Idaho to be a circuit judge in Ninth Circuit Court.

The politics of Sandy Berger: The New York Times ' Mark Glassman reports that "Mr. Berger removed at least two versions of a memorandum assessing how the government handled intelligence and security issues before the millennium celebrations in 1999, his lawyer, Lanny A. Breuer, said. He also removed notes he took about classified documents, the lawyer said." LINK

USA Today 's Kevin Johnson and Susan Page report that two officials from the National Archives "said Berger was reportedly seen stuffing some of the material into his clothing." LINK

The Washington Post 's Susan Schmidt and Dan Eggen report that Berger's lawyer says the removal of the papers was inadvertent, and that while Berger has offered to cooperate, the FBI has not interviewed him. LINK

The AP's John Soloman reports "President Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, is the focus of a Justice Department investigation after removing highly classified terrorism documents and handwritten notes from a secure reading room during preparations for the Sept. 11 commission hearings." LINK

The New York Post on "file swipe:" LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Carla Anne Robbins has a story.

ABC News Vote 2004: Kerry-Edwards '04: The Boston Globe 's Glen Johnson reports that Senator Kerry will accept federal funds after he accepts his party's nomination next week, will be paid back the $6.4 million loan he gave his campaign before Iowa, and will disperse leftovers to Democratic Party operations who can advertise and whatnot on his behalf. LINK

The Washington Post 's Dana Milbank takes Note of the Kerry campaign's "one-word weapon": Halliburton. LINK

The Boston Herald's Miga and Guarino's Kerry profile topic of the day is his years between his marriage to Julia Thorne and Teresa Heinz Kerry. "Kerry soon found himself embroiled in controversial deals, some with political supporters and top fund-raisers, involving leased cars, cut-rate housing from developers and condos." LINK

The Boston Herald duo also looks at Julia Thorne's "suffocation" once her husband John began his career in public service. LINK

And then, under a headline "All the Senator's Women," Guarino and Miga look at Senator Kerry's interest in ladies. "The senator was often seen prowling area nightclubs, attending parties at a million-dollar Commonwealth Avenue apartment and traveling extensively." LINK

"He called himself a lonely man looking for love."

The Washington Post 's Paul Farhi takes a really interesting look at the combination of database jockeying and shoe-leather canvassing that Democrats are using to build a sophisticated system to target voters and catch up to the long-held voter database infrastructure of the Republican Party. Farhi includes a smart quote from direct-mail consultant Hal Malchow, who Notes that the techniques vastly improve how the party will allocate resources, but "'This doesn't improve [a candidate's] message one bit.'" LINK

We also liked the poetic imagery of an "enormous data torrent streaming toward Washington from all around the country," even if it makes us want to run for our lives like in a scene from a disaster movie.

Perhaps some softball-playing reporter on Nantucket can get John Kerry to weigh in on the burgeoning controversy over whether or not Hemingway's Ketchum home should be open to the public. LINK

"By rallying the Democratic base, the 51-year-old Edwards might be able to secure money, volunteers and votes from Democrats who were otherwise grudging in their support of Kerry," writes James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times in his assessment of Edwards' first solo trip. LINK

Be sure not to miss Sally Kirkland on her tiptoes, and don the bib before reading this one.

USA Today 's Kathy Kiely writes about Edwards' recent travels where he stumps for both sides of his "two Americas." LINK

The Raleigh News & Observer 's Rob Christensen reports on Edwards' home state haul yesterday. LINK

Michael Finnegan (filling in for Matea for that tough Nantucket assignment) has the Kerry-Edwards pre-convention itinerary all mapped out for you. LINK

There also seems to be an interesting Los Angeles Times story about Los Angeles yogis for Kerry, but the Calendar section restrictions prohibit us from reading it online.

Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel opines about the lack of access the traveling press had to Senator John Edwards during his recent campaign swing in Florida, where, he writes, the press was herded like animals. LINK

Scott: you need to go on a White House trip!!!!

The Florida AP Notes Senator Kerry's visit to Cape Canaveral on Monday, the first day of the Democratic National Convention. LINK

The Washington Post 's E.J. Dionne opines that "the revisionist history of the Dean campaign has already begun," and that "above all, Dean's rise in 2003 was a symptom of the Democratic rank and file's intense desire to turn itself into a fighting force. The higher Dean went in the polls, the sharper his rivals became in their criticisms of Bush." LINK

The Minneapolis Star Tribune's Muriel Dobbin and David Westphal throw around words like "underwhelming" as they detail Kerry's campaign style and write that Kerry, "has not put to rest doubts about his ability to connect in a personal and dynamic way with voters." LINK

Roll Call 's David Winston follows up Elizabeth Edward's boast about her ticket's largess on "60 Minutes." LINK

Felix Rohatyn, an investment banker and former U.S. ambassador to France, writes in today's Wall Street Journal why he plans to vote for John Kerry in November. Sounds like a good SecTreas rehearsal to us . . . The Sun-Sentinel listened in on the presidential candidate's Jewish younger brother's appearance in Boca, where he, Cameron Kerry, spoke to an audience of about 400. "Playing to the mostly Jewish audience, Kerry, 53, focused on what he sees as the Bush family's friendship with the Saudi royal family, the administration's pandering to Arab states and the lack of aggression toward Iran."LINK

The New York Daily News gave some play to the DWI case involving John Edwards' brother. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect: Jonathan Weisman of the Washington Post reports that the president is pushing for Congress to extend a series of his tax cuts before they recess at the end of the week. LINK

The AP's Dalrymple reports, "Republican divisions in the Senate could complicate efforts to extend three of President Bush's most popular tax cuts this week. If allowed to expire, Americans could pay $50 more in taxes and lose up to $300 in tax benefits for each child next year." This is the lead story in the Arizona Republic and the Arizona Daily Sun, plus more. LINK

The Washington Post 's Ceci Connolly looks at Vice President Cheney's speech on medical malpractice yesterday in Toledo, Ohio, Noting Cheney articulated "a health policy vision nearly opposite the one advocated by the Democratic presidential ticket." LINK

In Toledo, Cheney accused Democrats of siding with lawyers in malpractice reform, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. LINK

And during a Q&A with supporters in Missouri, Cheney attacked the Democratic ticket for their votes on medical liability reform and said "They don't want to see reform of that system. I think it's because, frankly, they are too close to the plaintiffs' attorneys that benefit from the system and the way it operates today." LINK

The president will speak today in Cedar Rapids, and all the Iowa City Press-Citizen's Vanessa Miller can write about is how candidates are not visiting Iowa City, which lies roughly 30 minutes from Cedar Rapids (We recommend taking I-380 north). LINK

The Iowa City Press-Citizen is also upset that President Bush's forum will be closed to non-Republicans. LINK

For a slightly more objective look at Bush's visit to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as well as an overview of rural Iowa feelings towards the president, check out the Des Moines Register 's high-quality Thomas Beaumont. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Maura Reynolds provides a must-read insight into presidential speech vetting. You may be surprised to learn that the State Department has its own Googling monkeys. And apparently they sometimes turn up undergraduate papers without footnotes that get sent straight to the Oval Office for some pull quotes. LINK

The Washington Times ' Sammon looks at the BC04 communication strategy in July — "a presidential vanishing act that began two weeks ago." LINK

And the AP's Scott Lindlaw looks at the RNCBC04 plan for Boston — a "thorn-in-their-side" surrogate delegation and the Veep on the campaign trail. LINK

Lindlaw Notes that the current BC04 ad buy ends on Thursday and "senior Bush campaign aides said they had no plans to run ads during the Democratic convention."

Interesting to Note amid all the "dump Cheney" talk — the Vice President has raised more money for House and Senate Republicans than even President Bush, thus gaining a measure of loyalty from lawmakers, writes The Hill's Geoff Earle. LINK

Despite its reputation as a "hippie haven," a group of professors at the University of Oregon — the driving forces behind letting "scientifically based research" inform classroom practices — have found favor with the Bush Administration and influenced the No Child Left Behind act, reports the AP. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney v. Kerry-Edwards: In what is surely Democrats' favorite story of the day, the Wall Street Journal 's Hilsenrath and Freeman front that many economists believe the economic recovery has indeed taken "two tracks,"Noting data that suggests that affluent Americans have benefited most in this economic recovery.

USA Today 's Mimi Hall and Judy Keen write about how both sides are using the 9/11 report as a political tool. LINK

USA Today 's Martin Kasindorf reports, "From all appearances, both parties are making a nationwide pitch for the 7 million Hispanic-Americans who are expected to vote on Nov. 2."LINK

"But the impression that this is the 'Year of the Hispanic' — a flattering cliché that politicians recycle every four years — is misleading. Though Hispanics are getting recognized, the attention is limited."

Yet again, an article reminding the world that the Hispanic vote has, alas, many variations and is difficult to characterize simply, in the New York Times . LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's King and Schroeder take a look at President Bush and Senator Kerry's take on tariffs on Chinese imports and Notes that presidential candidates often take a hard line on tariffs, but when elected ease off from that position.

On the issues, Bush and Kerry see two different Americas, writes Adam Nagourney New York Times . LINK

"On Iraq and the economy, on the United States' place in the world and the candidates' views of each other, it sometimes seems as if Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry are campaigning in different countries."

The New York Daily News' Helen Kennedy uses Marist's latest poll numbers to determine that neither candidate will get much of a bounce out of the convention since only 4% of the electorate is undecided according to the survey. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Alan Murray, himself not decided, bemoans the "exceptional polarization" he sees in today's electorate and ends with a call to rethink how states redistrict Congress. LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman deconstructs the fine art of campaign promises, Noting the propensity of candidates — including incumbents — to ignore the fine print (i.e., the actual costs) of their proposals. LINK

The Detroit Free Press examines how "traditional fund-raisers are giving way to a more intimate approach that allows candidates to reach out and almost touch someone," at a time when campaigns are desperately trying to make connections that will get voters to the ballot box. LINK

The conventions: The Boston Herald reports that while the three voting members of the Joint Labor-Management Committee unanimously agreed to order a contract with BPPA by 2 p.m. Thursday, the union is furious, and Mayor Menino is thrilled. LINK

Said mayor did a victory lap on CNN this morning.

And Rick Klein of the Boston Globe writes, "The union is arguing that yesterday's meeting occurred without appropriate public notice, that the committee lacks the authority to reverse its previous ruling, and that two-plus days will not give them adequate time to hash out all the contract issues with the arbitrator." LINK

"Menino said delegates should feel free to ignore police-led protests, since the union will have a contract in place by the time the convention begins."

"Seeking to prevent a dispute between the city and its police union from disrupting the Democratic National Convention, government mediators voted unanimously Monday to send the case to binding arbitration and called for a ruling to be made by Thursday afternoon, four days before the convention begins," reports the Washington Post 's Jonathan Finer. LINK

John Kifner of the New York Times reports on the union contract dispute that could result in Boston police officers and firefighters picketing during the Democratic convention. LINK

Members of the Arkansas delegation will not cross police picket lines at the Boston Convention, according to Andrew DeMillo of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Gannett News Service's Chuck Raasch analyzes the Democrats' 35-page platform, Noting that "these documents are a good gauge of the tenor of the times. Sometimes, what is left out is just as powerful a statement as what is put in." LINK

Peter Canellos writes in the Boston Globe about one speaker at the convention who will not be getting a warm reception from fellow Democrats: "When [former nominee Al] Gore takes the podium at the Democratic National Convention next week, there will be no joy in the FleetCenter. Like an invitation to a wedding that got canceled or a ticket for a flight that never took off, Gore is destined forever to represent unfulfilled hopes and bitter disappointments."LINK

Protest groups for the Boston convention seem to be following the footsteps of those in New York, filing a suit against the city claiming it is preventing free speech with placement of demonstration area, the Boston Herald reports. LINK

Gannett News Service's Mike Madden looks at all the money involved in putting the Democratic convention together. LINK

The executive producer, David G. Mugar, of Senator Kerry's failing Boston Pops concert dreams (not to be confused with the Boston Pops concert being held by Boston 2004), has resigned because he has not been paid, reports the Boston Globe 's Abraham. LINK

And in another example of failed planning, it looks like those delegates bringing their children are on their own when it comes to child care in Boston. The Boston Globe Notes the lack of arrangements organizers made. LINK

To help all you TV directors and producers out there, Heather Allen of the Boston Globe writes up the unveiling of the transformed Fleet Center yesterday, complete with all sorts of technological details. LINK

While Noting that none of the broadcast television networks plans to carry Ron Reagan's speech live, the Washington Post 's Lisa de Moraes inexplicably singles out CBS for its explanation that an eight-minute speech doesn't justify another hour of coverage. LINK

The Boston Globe highlights the young Americans whose essays won them speaking rights at the convention next week. LINK

Audrey Hudson of the Washington Times accounts for the surveillance to be used during the Democratic Convention in Boston. LINK

Michael Slackman of the New York Times profiles concierges and their preparations for upcoming conventions in New York and Boston. LINK

A must-read for journalists and press-bashers alike!!!

House Republicans are delivering a letter today, signed by "at least 127 House Republicans" asking that Rep. Henry Hyde be given a speaking roll at the GOP convention in New York. LINK

No sweeping bag searches for demonstrators at the Republican National Convention, so says a Manhattan federal judge. LINK

And some cops on the front lines are none too pleased about it. LINK

The woes of a delegation from a safe Blue State: Bad seating. LINK

The New York Times ' Rick Lyman profiles New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. LINK

As we told you in last week's Note, thousands of Democratic activists will get on-the-job training in campaigning, media relations, grassroots building and get-out-the-vote work this weekend — work before the play. Organizers hope that 2,000 of them will be young voters, brought up to Boston on buses from locales as far away as Kentucky.

The training takes place at the Hynes Auditorium from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. during the convention.

The GAIN folks have smartly opened it all to the press.

While it might seem tailor-made for fluff stories or producers who need seven hours of daily broadcasts to fill, such a large-scale training will undoubtedly produce results for Democrats in subsequent cycles, provided the organizers to their jobs right.

The politics of national security: The New York Times ' Shenon writes up President Bush's comments yesterday on Iran and al Qaeda. LINK

Vince Morris of the New York Post does the same and wonders if President Bush is getting ready to focus more attention on the Iranian portion of "the axis of evil." LINK

Ed Chen and Greg Miller team up on the pages of the Los Angeles Times to write up President Bush and his Administration's distancing from Sunday show comments made by acting CIA Director McLaughlin with regard to Iran's possible 9/11 involvement and the potential for a new spy czar. LINK

Today's Primaries: Georgia: Polls open at 7:00 am ET and close at 7:00 pm ET.

North Carolina: Polls open 6:30 am ET and close at 7:30 am ET.

Today, Republicans and Democrats in Georgia will winnow the field in the contest to succeed retiring Senator Zell Miller, whose iconoclasm landed him a prime speaking slot at the Republican convention.

Conservative activists tend to back one of two candidates: Herman Cain, the chairman and CEO of Godfather's Pizza, who is also a former Federal Reserve bank president; and Rep. Mac Collins.

Most other Republicans support Rep. Johnny Isakson, who is considered by conservatives to be a moderate but who considers himself a conservative.

Candidates must win more than 50 percent of the vote to advance; if they don't, there's an Aug. 10 run-off. Isakson leads in pre-election polls and will almost certainly survive to a run-off if he fails to obtain a majority today.

Democrats are fielding Rep. Denise Majette, who upset Rep. Cynthia McKinney in 2002; and wealthy entrepreneur and tech consultant Cliff Oxford. There are six other candidates running, too.

Republicans are favored to pick up the seat regardless of who they choose, but Democrats hope that a well-funded, popular challenger can make it competitive.

Four congressional seats — including Majette's — are also in play tomorrow. McKinney has re-run for her old seat

In North Carolina, former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot looks well positioned to finish first in the six-way Republican gubernatorial primary in North Carolina, but it could be tight and there is a catch. In the latest poll by the Raleigh News & Observer , Vinroot had about 35 percent, while former state Senator Patrick Ballantine and former state party Chairman Bill Cobey were running neck-and-neck behind him at about 24 percent each.

Under North Carolina election laws, any candidate who wins 40 percent (plus 1) of the vote is automatically the nominee. But if no candidate reaches that threshold, then the second-place finisher has the right to request a second primary between the top two candidates — i.e., a runoff. If (when!) there is a second primary, it would be on Aug. 17. Got all that?

Georgia voters and election officials anticipate e-day confusion after district lines have been redrawn. Eight Democrats and three Republicans seek their party's nomination to replace Senator Zell Miller. LINK

Bookish Shaila Dewan of the New York Times profiles former Senator Zell Miller and the GOP's "tightening grip" on the state of Georgia. LINK

Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) and others attempt a comeback as Georgians and North Carolinians head to the polls. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: casting and counting: The Chicago Tribune's Dahleen Glanton does a good job of explaining Florida's voting problems — particularly the system to restore civil rights to felons who have completed their sentences, the complicated system for granting clemency, and the touchy history surrounding the disenfranchisement of voters in the state. LINK

Junior Senator from Florida Bill Nelson has now gotten involved and made an appeal to Attorney Gen. John Ashcroft and Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood to reconsider re-examining the voting technology in Florida, according to the AP. LINK

And there's trouble for former Florida elections commissioner Miriam Oliphant, whose critics will not be forced to testify because her legal team did not serve them subpoenas. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: battleground states: Slate on MOAB — Mother of all Battlegrounds — with an article that published post-Note yesterday but was interesting enough to include today. LINK

Ohio is No. 1 . . . and No. 2 and No. 4 and No. 5. What a finish for the Buckeye State, where four Ohio media markets were among the top five advertising targets in the country by the presidential campaigns during a recent 3½-month period, reports the Columbus Dispatch. LINK

Activists in Columbus, Ohio began a week of abortion protests. LINK

"As a national retailer considers selling Taser stun guns to the public, a Columbus councilman is concerned because no law prevents felons from owning them," The Columbus Dispatch reports. LINK

The St. Petersburg Times reports, "The National Right to Life Committee endorsed Mel Martinez and Johnnie Byrd and expressed disappointment in the candidate it endorsed four years ago, former U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum." LINK

A new Pioneer Press/Minnesota Public Radio poll shows that the state remains split on the war and "that slightly more than half the state's voters think it is reasonable to expect U.S. troops to be out of that country by the end of next year," according to the Pioneer Press' Phillip Pina. LINK

New Hampshire state Republicans attacked President Bush's environmental record at a conference organized by an anti-Bush environmental group, writes the AP's Erik Stetson. LINK

New Hampshire Gov. Craig Benson airs his first campaign ad today, according to the Union Leader. LINK

It seems every day we're giving you another pro-Bush editorial from the Union Leader. So why stop today? This one says Bush's credibility on Iraq intelligence is looking better. LINK

So, the president has a point in Maine — employment is back to peak levels reached before the recession of 2001. But Kerry's right too, maybe — critics say the newly created jobs are inferior. LINK

Dozens of unmarried gay, lesbian, and heterosexual couples are expected to sign up for Maine's domestic-partner registry when it is created July 30 as part of a new law that expands inheritance rights for unmarried couples. LINK

While a Congress proposal to distribute federal student-aid money more evenly would cost Maine's colleges and universities $8.2 million annually, due to a stall in Congress, Maine's hefty share of aid appears safe for at least another year. LINK

Bangor taxpayers, just like citizens all throughout Maine, are begging for property-tax relief, but while a proposed statewide tax cap on the November election ballot is beginning to look appealing, it comes at a cost. LINK

Inmates in jail in Oakland County, Mich., are packed in like sardines and if the county can't find a solution, they may have to free inmates early. LINK

Governors of the eight Great Lakes states are proposing what they describe as a major step toward preventing massive water withdrawals that damage the lakes, reports the Detroit News. LINK

Aladdin officials said Monday the decision to evict singer Linda Ronstadt from their hotel Saturday was not a partisan political response, but when she praised filmmaker Michael Moore, "all of a sudden all bedlam broke loose." LINK

The AP Notes the different agendas Bush and Kerry are pushing in West Virginia. LINK

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones will send West Virginia T-shirts as an apology to the couple arrested at a President Bush appearance in West Virginia this month, but he won't have to mail them. The couple plans to move from Texas to Charleston. LINK

On the Hill: Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist believes he can end the gridlock in the Senate if only he can work with a Senate seating 55 Republicans. The Note has not confirmed reports that Frist would also like a pony for Christmas. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the Senate: Senate Republican wannabe Pete Coors battles a new 527 in Colorado. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the House: Roll Call reports Rep. Jim Greenwood (R) has informed the House Republican leadership that he will retire. Democrats and Pennsylvania score another interesting race. LINK

The politics of same-sex marriage: "The fight over whether Ohio needs a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is set for battle in courtrooms, churches and the airwaves," writes the Cincinnati Enquirer. LINK

The Columbus Dispatch writes of opponents' charges that a proposed Ohio constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages would be discriminatory, threaten domestic-partner benefits offered by some universities and businesses, and create chaos in the courts. LINK

Politics: The beginning of the end of the NGA? Or merely a new iteration?

The New York Times ' Hernandez and Baker report that the governors of New York, California, Texas and Florida have decided to enter into a "formal agreement to jointly lobby members of Congress." LINK

The Seattle Times' Kyung Song reports that "consensus ran deeper on what is wrong with the U.S. health-care system than on how to fix it" yesterday at the NGA conference. LINK

The Seattle Post Intelligencer reports, "Senior federal officials heard complaints from the nation's governors in behind-the-scenes meetings that the Iraq war is draining critical state emergency resources because so many National Guardsmen are deployed abroad." LINK

The Schwarzenegger era: Gov. Schwarzenegger's weekend comments are still reverberating through the halls of Sacramento and budget negotiations have come to a halt, reports the Los Angeles Times. LINK

Lynda Gledhill of the San Francisco Chronicle takes a closer look at California's budget battle, and the stalemate that the Governator's "girlie men" comment may have touched off. And in the midst of talk about an espresso machine that we admit we don't quite get, the Democratic leader of the state Senate is promising that if the budget fight is not solved in time for state Dems to go to Boston for their national convention, Republicans in the legislature will not be able to leave town for their own convention in New York. LINK

Nader-Camejo: Yesterday Ralph Nader let Michigan Republicans help him qualify for the state's presidential ballot without a fight. The Michigan GOP submitted about 43,000 signatures last week; Nader's campaign about 5,400. Coast to coast, lots of pickup on the AP story. LINK to LINK

The Detroit Free Press reports the Nader campaign didn't decline their GOP-gotten gifts, as a method of keeping options open while the secretary of state and party officials untangle the Reform Party mess. LINK

Yesterday's acts signaled Go Time for the Nader Factor, which plans to come out with online ads and petitions to highlight Nader's "desperate act."

"What we saw in Michigan yesterday is that Ralph Nader is indeed willing to sell his very integrity and soul to the extreme right-wing and the Bush White House, said Chris Kofinis, strategist for, "What is so amazing is that Nader would work with the same Republicans that have tried to destroy every progressive cause he has ever stood for. This is a tragic moment in the legacy of Nader and sad day for those who once respected what Nader stood for." LINK

Terry McAuliffe lays the smack down too. "Ralph Nader's decision today aligned him with the Republican Party, their corporate supporters, and groups like Pat Buchanan's Reform Party, the kind of right wing conservatives Nader has spent a lifetime fighting against." LINK

Moving right along, today Nader supporters plan to submit enough signatures to get him on the ballot in New Jersey today. They will hold a press conference to denounce "dirty tricks" on behalf of Democrats.

Nader's next deadlines are Missouri on the 26th and West Virginia on August 1, speaking of which …

The West Virginia Gazette reports Nader's campaign willingly admits it has hired a controversial Florida firm to gather signatures in its effort to get on the West Virginia ballot. "You have to do what you have to do to get on the ballot," Kevin Zeese, Nader's campaign spokesman in Washington, D.C., said about utilizing JSM Inc. employees. Note, Nader used the same firm in Arizona, where many of his signatures were nullified when it was discovered that firm had used a convicted felon to collect signatures. LINK

And in Green news: "Cobb, the Green Party presidential nominee, is hoping to boost his bid to get on the ballot in Ohio during a swing through Columbus and the state this week," reports the Columbus Dispatch. LINK

The politics of atomic elbows: World Wrestling Entertainment was in the nation's capital on Monday, holding a voter registration event on Capitol Hill and hosting U.S. military personnel, campaign staffers, and media types at reception prior to their live broadcast of WWE RAW from the MCI Center. Be on the lookout for some to-the-point WWE public service announcements on voting distributed in conjunction with the League of Women Voters. The Note was lucky to get some exclusive behind-the-scenes looks at the WWE's production, but we're not going to tell you any of those secrets! We will tell you this: spotted in the crowd, in addition to the Washington Redskins cheerleaders, were Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) and ABC News' own Geoff Morrell!

Correction: Due to what has been described to us as sleep deprivation, a correspondent for The Note horrified Florida transportation planners and extended I-4 hundreds of miles South to Ft. Lauderdale yesterday. The I-4 corridor, of course, runs through Orlando from Daytona and ends near Tampa. It does not extend anywhere else, and it does not infringe upon the metaphysical territory of I-75 or I-95 or A1A or the Turnpike (the Reagan Turnpike) and all other lovely Florida roads. We regret the error.

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET):

— 6:30 am: Polls open in the North Carolina gubernatorial primary — 7:00 am: Polls open in the Georgia senatorial primary — 8:05 am: President Bush meets with his economic advisers at the White House — 8:30 am: The Commerce Department releases housing stats for June — 8:30 am: Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks at an International Donors Conference on Haiti at the World Bank, Washington, D.C. — 8:45 am: Attorney General John Ashcroft delivers the keynote address at the 2004 National Leadership Conference of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces Program, Washington, D.C. — 9:00 am: The House of Representatives meets for its morning hour — 9:30 am: Sens. Jon Kyl and Joe Lieberman and former CIA Director James Woolsey hold a news conference to announce the formation of the Committee on the Present Danger, an advocacy group dedicated to winning the war on terrorism, at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. — 9:30 am: The Senate Armed Services committee holds — 9:30 am: The Senate Armed Services Committee is briefed by the Iraqi survey group in a closed door session at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. — 10:00 am: The Senate convenes for morning business — 10:00 am: House Speaker Dennis Hastert holds a photo opportunity with Serbian President Boris Tadic at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. — 10:30 am: The Senate Select Intelligence Committee discusses intelligence reform and bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Diane Feinstein that would create a National Intelligence Director position at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. — 10:30 am: EMILY's List National Political Director Karen White releases a report on female swing voters in the 2004 election, Washington, D.C. — 12:00 pm: Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge speaks about public preparedness at the American Red Cross National Headquarters, Washington, D.C. — 12:00 pm: Sean "P. Diddy" Combs presents his political plans for the 2004 election at NYU, New York, N.Y. — 12:00 pm: Former Gov. Howard Dean attends a fundraiser for California Assembly candidate Mary Ann Andreas at the Riviera Resort Hotel, Palm Springs, Calif. — 12:30 pm: The Senate Democrats hold their weekly policy luncheon at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. — 12:30 pm: The Senate Republicans hold their weekly policy luncheon at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. — 1:40 pm: President Bush participates in an "Ask President Bush" event, Cedar Rapids, Iowa — 1:00 pm: Ralph Nader holds a press conference at Cyrano's Bookstore and Off-center Playhouse, Anchorage, Alaska — 2:00 pm: Secretary Powell speaks to the press following his meeting with Serbian President Boris Tadic at the State Department, Washington, D.C. — 2:30 pm: Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan appears before the Senate Armed Services committee at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. — 3:00 pm: President Clinton signs copies of his book "My Life" at Tattered Cover Bookstore, Denver, Colo. — 6:30 pm: President Bush speaks at a campaign rally at the Family Arena, St. Charles, Mo. — 7:00 pm: Polls close in Georgia — 7:30 pm: Polls close in North Carolina — 11:05 pm: President Bush returns to the White House