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Politically, we live in the Age of the Unbelievable.

After the '94 Republican tsunami, the government shutdown, impeachment, the Florida recount, and the '02 Republican defiance of electoral history, we have learned to check our surprise at the door when the seemingly impossible occurs right before our eyes.

It might SEEM like a slow and steamy summer day, but all over the place, the unbelievable is happening.

To wit:

For insiders and GOP-savvy members of the Gang of 500, the most unbelievable passage to appear in any newspaper in America in ages is this from today's Washington Post story about how John McCain (who co-chairs the president's re-election campaign in Arizona) will unbelievably campaign with the president at the end of this week!!

This is the amazing part: "McCain's trip with Bush grew out of a meeting this spring between White House senior adviser Karl Rove and John Weaver, a top adviser to McCain, who became a Democratic consultant after the bitter campaign between Bush and McCain." LINK

"Rove and Weaver, who both were GOP strategists in Texas, had a well-publicized falling-out in the late 1980s and have been rivals ever since — a relationship that was strained further by the 2000 campaign. Weaver described Rove as 'gracious' and said the two had 'a very honest and very frank discussion and let's just leave it at that.'" (emphasis added by a fainting Googling monkey).

Why is this unbelievable? Let us list the ways: LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK.

But there are plenty of other unbelievable things out there.

For instance, the New York Times ' David Sanger — who continues to write about the potential political implications of the president's foreign policy with more nuance and sophistication than anyone else out there — is still able to slip the word "privately" past his unsuspecting editors, as in

"Mr. Bush's aides are increasingly apprehensive about the drop in his approval ratings that polls indicate are largely attributable to his handling of Iraq and the prisoner abuse scandal. Publicly, they express confidence that those numbers will recover once Iraq settles down. Privately, they say, they are uncertain it will settle down in time for the election." LINK

(Nicely reported out, Mr. Sanger. That's pretty much the whole ball of wax at this point.)

And suspend your (dis)belief for this: It's June, and President Bush is taking his TV ads off the air (for "days not weeks") while John Kerry stays on the air. And even if the Republicans are right when they say it is simply a smart use of their resources, it is even more unbelievable how much cash Kerry is still raising.

And, in the kind of snap judgment (daring to be wrong!) that The Note makes all too regularly, we are amazed that all the hand wringing over how Bill Clinton would address the Monica Lewinsky issue in his book might have been completely vaporized by how he talked about it in the just-released CBS excerpt.

Another one: even with Jano Cabrera helping shape the message of the Democratic National Committee, the party chairman, Terry McAuliffe, continues to use the greatest cliché of our time with impunity, telling the Washington Post : ""This is a perfect storm for fundraising, a visceral dislike of George Bush's policies, a great nominee, and a unified and energized party."

Is this the first time the hackneyed term has crossed those Syracusian lips? So not: LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, and LINK

Other things we can't believe: the Washington Post 's Ruth Marcus continues to have more influence over the regulation of campaign finance rules than the FEC does LINK; Roger Simon has made us completely forget that Larry King ever had a USA Today column LINK; and John Kerry seems to be paying no Democratic-interest-group price whatsoever for (apparently) considering only white men to be his running mate.

Now, watch: he'll pick Jeanne Shaheen.

Much more on veepstakes below.

Today, the 9/11 Commission releases its final staff statement at 8:00 am this morning and follows with a hearing on the military's response to Sept. 11 featuring Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Myers. At 11:30 the Commission holds a hearing on the FAA's response to Sept. 11.

President Bush meets with his Cabinet at 10:05 this morning before speaking to the National Federation of Independent Business in Washington at 1:30. He then travels to Spokane, Wash, where he speaks at a fundraiser for a Senate candidate at 9:25 p.m..

This afternoon, Senator Kerry speaks to the Michigan AFL-CIO executive board at 2:20 p.m. before attending evening fundraisers for his campaign and Rep. Kilpatrick. And there are some holes in his morning DC schedule for maybe some face-to-face encounters with possible runningmates.

Veepstakes: With chicanery and fake-outs worthy of a Law and Order episode-meets-Punk'd, Senator Kerry snuck in Rep. Dick Gephardt for a 90 minute meeting at his Senate hideaway yesterday, and Democratic sources confirm that the two men had a frank discussion about Kerry's vice presidential search.

Though Senator Bob Graham was in Georgetown last night for a fundraiser, he did not make a visit to Kerry's house, as best we can tell. The Massachusetts Senator met instead with campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill and with James Johnson.

What's next? Well, as we said, Kerry has a few hours to spare on Friday.

As was reported on World News Tonight Wednesday, the Kerry campaign is looking closely at the week after July 4th to introduce America to their choice. But that's subject to change, and to the vagaries of Kerry's own decision. It may happen even earlier, but we wouldn't bet on it.

Influential Democrats, including many key Senators and party operatives, are fans of John Edwards, and an insistent chorus of "you must choose John, John" has certainly pierced the walls of that swanky inner chamber of his campaign plane.

The Kerry campaign has used Edwards so effectively as a surrogate that they may have boxed themselves into the corner of having to explain to the Democratic world why they DIDN'T choose him after all.

Even aides to several leading contenders admit that the Edwards boomlet is real. They believe that Senator Kerry has seen polls that show how Edwards helps him in states like Wisconsin and Florida. Those Democrats will close ties to the Senate and House races think an Edwards on the ticket could enhance the prospects of an Erskine Bowles victory in North Carolina and help Inez Tennenbaum in South Carolina.

No other contender can be said to have such a broad-based constituency of elite supporters, and a second ring of "enthusiasts," such as Walter Mondale and Hillary Clinton, both of whom have been heard of late making the case for why Edwards would be a strong pick.

After stumping in Buffalo yesterday, Edwards swooped into the Big Apple, where he and the AFL-CIO's Linda Chavez-Thompson were honored as "progressive patriots" at a $250 per head fundraiser for the Drum Major Institute, a liberal think tank.

The ostensible purpose of the event was to commend Edwards for using his presidential run to focus attention on the plight of America's middle class.

But the buzz in the room was less about Edwards' own presidential run and more about the role most in the room expect him to play in Kerry's.

"He deserves to be up there in national office with Senator Kerry," lawyer Mel Weiss gushed when introducing Edwards, "and I hope he will be second on that ticket because he's remarkable."

While accepting the award, the words "John Kerry" crossed Edwards' lips three times: when discussing the economic pain he and Kerry saw on the campaign trail, when contrasting Kerry's health care plan with Bush's alleged lack of one, and while asserting that he and Kerry see fighting poverty as a moral as well as an economic issue.

Wearing the Outward Bound pin of his late son Wade, Edwards' personal touch was also on display: gripping, grinning, telling a Hassidic Jew who invited him to speak to his New York community, "let's work on this together," even setting the flash function on the disposable camera of one of the many females who wanted her picture taken with the man People Magazine chose as its "sexiest politician" in 2000.

Here's our "to-be-sure" paragraph:

Edwards does not appear to meet what has been described to ABC News as a key criteria for the veepstakes selection — that the nominee be instantly credible on foreign policy and be able to go toe-to-toe with Dick Cheney.

And that is a simple, if surmountable sticking point. There is certainly enough talent in the communication ranks of the Kerry to come up with an explanation that unsticks the point for us, but we haven't heard it yet.

Perhaps a boffo first week for Edwards (remember Lieberman's first week as Gore's running mate) would outweight in the minds of voters and the press a less than stellar debate performance (remember Lieberman's debate performance versus Cheney?). Or maybe Edwards, in the debate and on the trail, could finesse the foreign stuff and focus on driving an economic message.

Kerry has told associates that he views the vice presidency as an extremely important institution and wants a person of heft to fill it. Many prominent Democrats agree, that that's why they're floating names like Sam Nunn and William Cohen.

Cohen's office has formally declined to say whether he's being vetted, although an assistant to the former defense secretary said she had not heard anything about the process.

Here's a statement San Nunn gave ABC News about a report that he was being vetted. Note the use of the word "intention," and Note the careful language in general.

"I support Senator Kerry for President, but I do not intend to be extensively involved in any political campaign, and I have no intention of going back into government. I've had no conversation with Senator Kerry about any position in government."

Is Kerry actively considering a Nunn, a Cohen, his good friend/potential Secretary of State Joe Biden or others?

We can't say for sure, and we really don't think anyone can, at this point.

Question for Democrats: if you think Tom Vilsack has a legislative record problem with English only (see below), how the heck will you explain Sam Nunn to your base?

Yesterday, Vilsack's health care presser at the National Press Club in DC packed five network cameras, four lenses, Fournier, Zeleny, and others into small room. Fournier asked a nice question about Kerry's health care proposals, and then wondered whether Vilsack, or any of the other governors on the dais, were meeting with Senator Kerry today.

Vilsack demurred, saying, variously,"I think its probably appropriate for Sen.. Kerry to tell you who he's meeting with and what he's talking about … … You need to ask Senator Kerry about his conversations with folks … and You need to ask Senator Kerry about his schedule."

Later, Vilsack was accosted by a man who said he was from Sioux City. He asked Vilsack for a photo, which the amiable governor was eager to provide. "I'd like to be photographed with a soon-to-be famous politician," the man said. "Oh, why would I be famous soon?" Vilsack asked. "Will I win the lottery?" Unfazed, the man replied, "I'd like to take this photograph over to the vice president's mansion and get it signed in a few months."

Vilsack laughed.

Several people who have met with lawyers involved in the vetting process say that the questions that Johnson and company have asked this year are more exacting, more detailed, and more probing that any before — even the Gore 2000 vet.

One of the questionnaires they're using is familiar: it's called the White House personal data statement questionnaire and includes the following:

"Have you ever had any association with any person, group or business venture that could be used, even unfairly, to impugn or attack your character and qualifications for a government position?"

As usual, Ron Fournier had the key details first. LINK

Glen Johnson of the Globe Staff reports Kerry's aides have developed a plan that will turn the VP nod into a convention lead-in with an "elaborately staged announcement, as well as a bus, train, air, or boat tour by the duo aimed at building interest in the ticket." And if McAuliffe has his way, all just before July 26. LINK

Robin Toner and David Halbfinger of the New York Times report on the Kerry/Gephardt hideaway meeting: LINK

"Yet there are strategic political reasons, too, for Mr. Kerry to show that he is giving Mr. Gephardt serious consideration. For one, the congressman is by far the favored candidate of the labor movement … "

The Times duo also provides some detail on timing:

"But amid reports of Mr. McCain's repeated rejection of Mr. Kerry's offers, and with just six weeks left before the Democratic National Convention, the pace of Mr. Kerry's hunt for a vice-presidential nominee has apparently quickened in the last week. Jim Johnson, the head of his vice-presidential search, and Mary Beth Cahill, his campaign manager, were seen leaving his townhouse in Georgetown on Wednesday night. Aides now say a decision could come by the Fourth of July holiday."

Tom Vilsack, John McCain, and Sam Nunn all get their proper play in the Times ' account of yesterday's veepstakes circus.

Trying to do so without annoying former leader Gephardt and his supporters, Hans Nichols of The Hill reports some House members are pushing Edwards for the number two spot on the ticket. LINK

"Rep. Al Wynn (D-Md.) gathered 22 signatures on a letter from a diverse group of known Edwards supporters in late April, advocating a 'Dream Team Ticket.'

"In the letter, a copy of which has been obtained by The Hill, the 22 write: 'In urging you to place Senator John Edwards on the ticket as Vice-President, we are confident he will bring the right combination of talent, energy, and voter appeal to help you win the presidency."

Jill Lawrence ponders the veep contenders and Notes the recurring theme of Edward as rock-star, or as one state party leader puts it: "Elvis Presley was in the house." LINK

Vilsack's staff spent all day dealing with news that the State Supreme Court had invalidated a $500 million stimulus package because Vilsack improperly used a line item veto. LINK

And Democrats are starting to scrutinize his legislative record. Vilsack signed an English-only bill, Notes Mike Glover, and that's raising angst. LINK

Frank Davies of the Miami Herald reports that Senator Bob Graham's book outlining the infighting over intelligence on terrorism and Iraq, "Intelligence Matters," will be released Sept. 7. Davies Notes that superlawyer Bob Barnett negotiated the Random House deal, and that former Gore speechwriter Jeff Nussbaum helped write the book. LINK

Knight Ridder's James Kuhnhenn recaps the gossip surrounding Senator Kerry's trip to the Hill and behind-closed-doors meeting with Rep. Dick Gephardt yesterday. LINK

Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark attends a private fundraiser for Senator Kerry tonight in Washington.

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect: The Washington Post 's Dana Milbank wraps President Bush's pep rally with troops, "this time assuring them, despite the doubts of many Iraqis and much of the world, that their occupation of Iraq has been good for that country." LINK

The New York Times ' David Sanger in his wrap of the president's Centcom speech Notes it received heavy local television coverage. LINK

The St. Pete Times' Bill Adair wraps President Bush's visit Wednesday to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, and talked to some veterans who weren't enthralled. LINK

"Bush is going to great lengths to reassure veterans he is on their side. The White House invited reporters from veterans' publications to interview him on Air Force One during the flight to Tampa."

"Bush still has some convincing to do. Many veterans are unhappy that benefits have not kept pace with rising costs."

"The Bush administration does not understand the world and remains unable to handle "in either style or substance" the responsibilities of global leadership, a group of 27 retired diplomats and military commanders charged yesterday," writes the Washington Post 's Peter Slevin. LINK

The Bush-Cheney '04 campaign responded to the military officials and diplomats yesterday in a statement from spokesman Steve Schmidt and Noted that the campaign's research shows that a majority of the supporters at the diplomats and military commanders event "have been involved in partisan political activities in the past."

"It is not surprising that John Kerry has the support of a group of people who share his belief that the threat of terror is exaggerated. This is a group that share's John Kerry's pre-September 11th world view and supports John Kerry's failed ideas for treating terrorism as a matter mainly for law-enforcement and intelligence. Kerry's 'Diplomats And Military Commanders For Change' are also active in the political process as advisers, supporters and donors to Democrat candidates."

Ron Brownstein does his homework on the military commanders and diplomats and reports that "almost all served presidents of both parties — either as ambassadors, executive branch officials or military officers."LINK

More Brownstein on this group, which "symbolizes how Bush's search for new approaches to safeguard America has triggered a backlash among the centrist foreign policy establishment."

"It also indicates that the debate over Bush's direction could provoke the sharpest realignment of loyalties on foreign affairs since the emergence of neoconservative thinkers roughly 30 years ago."

Dick Stevenson of the New York Times delivers a scathing news analysis keying off the 9/11 commission's findings that no Iraq/Al Qaeda link existed. LINK

"In questioning the extent of any ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda, the commission weakened the already spotty scorecard on Mr. Bush's justifications for sending the military to topple Saddam Hussein."

"Banned biological and chemical weapons: none yet found. Percentage of Iraqis who view American-led forces as liberators: 2, according to a poll commissioned last month by the Coalition Provisional Authority. Number of possible Al Qaeda associates known to have been in Iraq in recent years: one, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose links to the terrorist group and Mr. Hussein's government remain sketchy."

Stevenson apparently stopped himself from adding Mastercard's priceless tagline and shipping the copy off to Bob Shrum.

The Bush-Cheney '04 campaign will stop running ads for several days beginning next week, the campaign said yesterday.

"The pause would seem to bring to a close Mr. Bush's springtime strategy of broadcasting a relentless and precisely planned set of commercials," the New York Times ' Ruttenberg Notes. LINK

A senior campaign official said that the campaign will report $63 million in cash on hand at the end of this week and the pause in ads reflects a strategic decision to capitalize when voters are paying attention

Bush Administration officials are coming out of the woodwork and it's just in time for re-election, Notes the Washington Times ' Sammon.LINK

"Since the beginning of June, President Bush, first lady Laura Bush, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and other senior administration officials have made themselves unusually accessible to the media," Sammon writes.

RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie is in Wisconsin today and expect him to hit hard on Senator Kerry's record on taxes and national security, while also giving a lecture on Houdini economics.

Gillespie offers up this piece of advice for his research guru Tim Griffin: "If you want to be prepared for John Kerry's national security speech in July, go to President Bush's Web site today."

Robert Teeter's New York Times obituary: LINK

Maureen Dowd is still trying to come to terms with the bipartisan bonhomie on display at the Clinton portrait unveiling. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Senator John Kerry: The Washington Post 's Thomas Edsall reports "since locking up the Democratic nomination on March 2, Senator John Kerry has raised more than $100 million, or over $1 million a day — a pace breaking all presidential campaign records, including those set by President Bush." LINK

"The single largest source of money for Kerry was the Internet, according to his campaign. It produced $44 million from March through May, compared with the $31 million raised through direct mail and phone solicitations, and $25 million from high-dollar events and major donor solicitations."

The Los Angeles Times ' Lisa Getter and Michael Finnegan check in with the outside groups, reporting that America Coming Together and the Media Fund have raised $110 million, the Voter Fund has raised $17.7 million. LINK

"Democratic presidential hopeful John F. Kerry pledged Wednesday to give working-class parents an additional $20 billion in subsidies over 10 years to help cover child-care costs, significantly expanding existing programs," reports the Washington Post 's Lois Romano. LINK

The Kerry campaign had no comment on reports that the Senate will vote on the marriage amendment the week of July 12. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds: Upgrading Nevada's electronic voting machines to include a paper trail will be costly, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal: in Clark County, home of Las Vegas, the tab may run to nearly $12 million. LINK

Although many Republicans dispute it, nuclear issues could be the deciding factors for Nevadans during the presidential election. Voters there continue to be concerned about the Yucca Mountain waste dump and the possibility of new nuclear weapons testing in the state, with Kerry's campaign hoping to make Yucca the "defining" issue in the state this November. LINK and LINK

When the president visits Nevada on Friday, he will be discussing the economy and national security, but probably not Yucca Mountain, Marc Racicot tells the Associated Press. The reason for the visit? Nevada will be "very, very close" in November, says Racicot. LINK

The Reno Gazette-Journal has a different take on the president's Friday trip to the area: his schedule, says a headline in the paper, is still "sketchy." LINK

Democrats will be out in full force to protest the president during his rally in Reno. LINK

The Bush Administration is saving Rep. George Nethercutt's Senate campaign "hundreds of thousands of dollars" by combining tonight's fundraiser with Friday's speech to troops. LINK

Senator Kerry's guests at a fundraiser in Columbus yesterday morning included popular former Senator John Glenn, who told the crowd that "John Kerry doesn't want you and your family to depend on how much you get trickled on by this trickle-down economy," reports the Columbus Dispatch.

Ohio's visit-a-day pace of presidential wannabes will continue, with new reports that the president will stop in Cincinnati next week. This comes on the heels of visits this week to the state by Senator Kerry, Vice President Cheney, and Ralph Nader. LINK

Mark Pinsky of the Orlando Sentinel Notes that the new head of the Southern Baptist Convention — which President Bush addressed via satellite earlier this week — is Floridian Rev. Bobby Welch, a Daytona Beach minister who "said one of his first acts will be a cross-country bus tour to renew the evangelistic fervor of Southern Baptists, who number 16.3 million." LINK

In Teresa Heinz Kerry's hometown yesterday, protestors picketed the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, calling on Bishop Donald Wuerl to deny communion to those legislators supporting legal abortion, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. LINK

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune profiles Mexican President Vincente Fox, who will be paying a visit to Minnesota on Friday. LINK

The Congress: The Washington Post 's Charles Babington Notes that the latest ethics complaint brought against Rep. Tom DeLay is "the latest in a series of lawsuits and accusations that have kept DeLay in debt to lawyers, even as supporters keep sending money to his defense fund, according to financial disclosure reports released yesterday." LINK

Ralph Nader: Ralph Nader sought money and signatures in the Yellowhammer State yesterday where he stopped in Birmingham for a fund-raiser at the home of a prominent lawyer, longtime friend, who on Nov. 2 will be a Kerry voter. The campaign has until Aug. 31 to collect 5,000 signiatures to appear on the ballot in Alabama — where he received 18,323 in 2000.

Nader says the Kerry campaign is conceding Alabama to the Bush in the fall. "Presidential candidates should never abandon any state." LINK

Today Nader campaigns at Hal and Mal's restraunt in Jackson, Miss., before travelling on to Memphis, Tenn., and Little Rock, Ark., for campaign stops. LINK

At a stop in Ohio, Nader told the Cleveland Free Times about his meeting with Kerry: LINK

The conventions: Boston Mayor Thomas Menino promises it will be the DNC or Kerry campaign and NOT city taxpayers who cover cost overruns (estimated $5 million) at the Democratic National Convention. Rick Klein of the Boston Globe report Menino says the convention show is being designed more by the DNC and Kerry campaign than the local host committee that Menino honchos. LINK

Civil rights groups are planning a showdown with the city of Boston over protest procedure limits during the convention. At a meeting yesterday between the city, the American Civil Liberties Union and National Lawyers Guild. Lewis and Klein of the Boston Globe report activists were told there is a ban on marches from 3:30-6:30 p.m., demonstrators may not be allowed to carry signs on sticks, and the use of battery-powered bullhorns will require special permits. LINK

Meanwhile, Boston cabbies are outraged over the suggestion they accept discounted flat-rate vouchers from 5,000 delegates for rides to and from Logan International Airport during the convention. LINK

Deborah Orin of the New York Post claims Senator Kerry's campaign doesn't want to give Hillary Clinton too prominent a speaking role at the convention. LINK

Protest organizers and Mayor Bloomberg had a chance face to face meeting about protest permits, reports the New York Times ' Winnie Hu. LINK

You can go to the New York Host Committee Web site or check out Michael Slackman's New York Times article to see who is contributing to the $64 million fundraising goal set by the committee to host this summer's Republican convention. LINK

Politics: Trent Lott has the honors in this coming Sunday's New York Times Magazine in the "Questions For" feature. He talked with Deborah Solomon and here are some highlights for you.

On his hair:

"No. 1, it is not a toupee. No. 2, it is generally straight and not inclined to run all over the place."

On Abu Ghraib prison scandal:

"Interrogation is not a Sunday-school class. You don't get information that will save American lives by withholding pancakes."

And the Father's Day question:

Q: How do you feel about gay men adopting and raising children?

Lott: "It's so important that children have parents or family that love them. There are a lot of adopted children who have loving parents, and it comes in different ways with different people in different states."

ABC News Vote 2004: casting and counting: The Washington Post 's ed board urges to allow ex-felons to vote in Florida. LINK

The Clintons of Chappaqua: CBS News' little tease of what's to come on Sunday and in the 900 plus pages of Bill Clinton's memoir scored the wood on both New York tabloids today. LINK and LINK. The New York Post includes a photo of Ms. Lewinsky from yesterday in New York.

Clinton tells Rather he did it because he could. He wears impeachment like "a badge of honor." And on keeping his family together, he tells Rather that took quite a bit of counseling.

"'We'd take a day a week, and we did — a whole day a week every week for a year, maybe a little more, and did counseling,' said Clinton."

And sometimes what makes for the wood of a New York tabloid only gets a few inches in the New York Times . LINK

The Orlando Sentinel's Hal Boedeker teases out some of the juicy bits,, from the efforts to save his marriage to the success of his economic plan and the "badge of honor" he considers his impeachment to be. Note particularly Dan Rather's preemptive defense against potential criticism that he was too soft. LINK

Howard Kurtz's take: LINK

The economy: The Wall Street Journal reports good news for those talking up economic recovery: industrial production rose by 1.1 percent last month, the best one-month showing since August 1998, and that manufacturing output rose by 0.9 percent in May. New home construction slowed a bit, by 0.7 percent in May, and the April decline was revised from 2.1 percent to 1 percent.

The Wall Street Journal 's James Hagerty reports that home builders and realtors are pressuring the Bush Administration to back down from its proposed HUD rules requiring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to finance more low-income housing.

The Reagan legacy: Bob Novak tosses some reality into the midst of the Reagan remembrances, declaring him to be more tough and conservative than the genial, bipartisan gentleman portrayed last week, and acknowledges that the former President is "more popular in death than he ever was in life." He headline, of course, is that Democrats co-opted Reagan as a way to stick it to President Bush on stem cell research, and that Bush has nowhere to go but remain entrenched in his current position. LINK

Media: The FCC is watching you — and your election coverage. That was the message delivered to broadcasters throughout the nation yesterday by Senator John McCain, FCC Chairman Michael Powell, and other commissioners of the FCC and FEC.

McCain and Powell said TV and radio stations do not cover candidates or issues in a thorough manner, yet they will rake in over a billion dollars in political ads. In response, the duo has issued a written "challenge" asking broadcasters to devote five minutes per day in the month leading up to election day to thorough political coverage.

It was clear the request will not be quickly forgotten: "The watchdogs for the public are alert and we're watching their every move," warned FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. And Powell said that if he doesn't like the response to his request, the FCC "could always consider affirmative content obligations" or revoking stations' licenses.

At the press conference, sponsored by the Campaign Legal Center, McCain also threatened to introduce legislation next year requiring free airtime for candidates.

Daily Variety Notes MoveOn PAC's plans to pack "Fahrenheit 9/11" on opening night, June 25. LINK.

Gabriel Snyder reports at least 422 theaters in at least 43 states will carry the film. An e-mail was sent to Move On PAC's 2.2 million members (all encouraged to show solidarity by wearing blue to the screening). "For our members, this is the 'Star Wars' of political movies," says Eli Pariser.

For a partial listing of theatres see LINK Earlier this week the brand new group Move America Forward LINK posted a message encouraging conservatives to pressure theatres not to play the pic.

The Los Angeles Times ' Nick Anderson looks at the new ad from the Club for Growth — the first to invoke former President Reagan — coming next week. The group is spending $500,000 to run the spot in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. LINK

Cannes on the Potomac: It's Movietime in the City: The Note sincerely hopes to see you TONIGHT, 7:00 p.m. ET at the SILVERDOCS AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival panel "On the Road: Documenting the Candidate."

It will be a first chance to sneak-a-peek 3-minutes of director George Butler's untitled work on John Kerry's life as a soldier and activist, based on Douglas Brinkley book "Tour of Duty." The pic promises to combine re-enactments and cinema verite (comme les films francais?).

Aussi aujourd'hui, at 4:45 p.m. ET is filmmaker Paul Stekler's "Last Man Standing" — a fine film about a Texas state house race in LBJ's old district.

The panel will include Steker, Butler (who's genius also gave the world "Pumping Iron" — a film about a young bodybuilder and aspiring actor named Arnold), Jesse Moss (LINK), and others, with moderator Mark Halperin of ABC News possibly getting a word in edgewise.

Tickets and all the information you need can be found right here at the SILVERDOCS Web site. LINK

Buy your tickets now — showing up to buy 'em at the door, and you will be taking a risk.

The Political Unit's awesome summer interns: As Dean Vernon Wormer once said, "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life."

That pretty much sums up the philosophy of the Political Unit in crafting the nation's preeminent network political journalism internship program.

It is a rigorous and educational experience like no other. We have had some truly terrific interns in the past (including some of us if we may say so ourselves), and this summer is no different. If you are currently an enrolled college student and are interested in interning with us this fall, then please send a cover letter and resume to

In the meantime, please meet our summer interns …

Blake Rasmussen of Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, is double majoring in politics and philosophy. He returns to us after his terrific job as an intern last fall. You all remember his outstanding work, including his much appreciated index for our friend Walter Shapiro's definitive work of the Democratic nomination season, "One Car Caravan." He's growing up on us-- he'll be graduating next spring. His weekly sports column in the school paper has been recognized statewide two years running. We are all very proud.

Faryl Ury is a rising junior at Harvard University. She's a sociology major who's had great experience with the campus rag and interned with a few different television operations. For the Harvard Crimson, she covered lots of the political hubbub on her campus last fall, including speeches and "Hardball" appearances. She took a class last semester about dinosaurs and will be surprised how handy paleontology can be in D.C. She's also a member of the Harvard Radcliffe Ballet Company.

Jonathan Greenberger is a rising senior at Washington University in St. Louis. He's an economics major and a double minor in political science and psychology. He's from Ohio and goes to school in Missouri, and so he attests that he has battleground juices flowing through him. He's the associate editor-in-chief of the school's newspaper and also a freelance writer for the university's publications office. During the school year, he reads The Note at night because he doesn't have time in the morning. He says he is "speechless" about interning with us, but fortunately he has spoken since his arrival.

Ana, be nice …

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET): —8:00 am: The 9/11 Commission releases its 17th staff statement, "Improvising a Homeland Defense," at its final hearing, Washington, D.C. —9:00 am: The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on the training of Iraqi security forces at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —9:15 am: The 9/11 Commission holds a hearing on the military response on the morning of Sept. 11 with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers, Navy Midshipmen Commander Adm. Charles Joseph Leidig, NORAD Commander Gen. Ralph Eberhart, and former NORAD commander Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold, Washington, D.C. —9:30 am: The Senate debate the Defense Authorization Act —9:30 am: Off-camera press gaggle by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan —10:00 am: Former HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo and Rep. Barney Frank, on behalf of the Kerry campaign, criticize President Bush's housing policies at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C. —10:00 am: The House meets for legislative business —10:05 am: President Bush meets with his Cabinet, the White House —10:45 am: House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly news conference at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —11:00 am: Reps. Martin Meehan, Lloyd Doggett, and Henry Waxman, discuss the proposed tobacco buyout program in the corporate tax bill at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —11:00 am: Freddie Mac releases its weekly report on mortgage rates. —11:30 am: The 9/11 Commission holds a hearing on the FAA's response on the morning of Sept. 11 with former and current directors of FAA and its regional offices, Washington, D.C. —12:00 pm: Ralph Nader visits Hal and Mal's, Jackson, Miss. —12:00 pm: Sen. Charles E. Schumer and others call for an investigation into information they say was shared by "Halliburton whistleblowers" at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —12:30 pm: On-camera press briefing by Press Secretary McClellan —12:30 pm: HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson discusses the department's housing policy at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C. —1:15 pm: President Bush speaks to the National Federation of Independent Business at the Marriott Hotel, Washington, D.C. —2:00 pm: Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney and Akron Mayor Donald Plusqueillic release the findings and recommendations of the Homeland Security Funding Task Force at Secret Service Headquarters, Washington, D.C. —2:20 pm: Sen. Kerry addresses the Michigan AFL-CIO Executive Board meeting, Detroit, Mich. —2:45 pm: Vice President Cheney speaks about the economy at NexTech Materials Ltd., Lewis Center, Ohio —2:30 pm: The Senate Intelligence Committee meets to discuss pending legislation including the release of its report on pre-war intelligence at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —3:00 pm: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a hearing on the nomination of John Danforth to be the United States Ambassador to the U.N. at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —4:00 pm: First Lady Laura Bush speaks at a campaign rally at the Fort Washington Expo Center, Fort Washington, Pa. —5:30 pm: Vice President Cheney attends a Victory 2004 fundraiser, Columbus, Ohio —6:15 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a Kilpatrick for U.S. Congress Reception, Detroit, Mich. —6:15 pm: First Lady Laura Bush speaks at the Reach Out and Read Gala at the Franklin Institute of Science Museum, Philadelphia, Penn. —7:15 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a fundraiser reception at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel, Detroit, Mich. —9:25 pm: President Bush attends a George Nethercutt for Senate Reception at the Spokane Center's International Agriculture Trade Center, Spokane, Washington