The Note





The Bush and Kerry traveling press corps are already sick of hearing that this is the most important election of our lifetimes and that the choice this year couldn't be more stark between two candidates who have very different views of America.

Indeed, there are times when members of the world's fourth-oldest profession should probably remind ourselves that the "important" should at least usually trump the "interesting" in our coverage of this race.

At the same time, part of what American presidential politics is about is spectacle, and part of what running for president is about is proving that you have (to use the title of the best book ever about the presidential process) What It Takes to run and win and (thus) serve well.

To navel gaze for just a sec, the three things The Note gets most criticized for are:

A. our obvious pro-Bush bias B. our obvious pro-Kerry bias C. our daily choice of leads

Today is a typical day where we face a choice (in our own way, the same choice faced by every cable news block and network morning show producer; all talk radio hosts; Internet gossipists; and, even, people around the watercooler or copier): so much to choose from with which to start in framing the political day.

(Which is why, today, we are trying to get away with choosing to wax on the topic of our having to choose….)

Will it be gas prices or gay unions?

The education dream or cookies and cream? (You need to have read the Kerry Portland pool report to get that one.)

Will it be sarin or see-through?

Scott McClellan's every word or Scott Peterson's every word?

9/11 hearings or "Fahrenheit 911"?

The education of America's children or the education of John Kerry?

The fate of Rummy or the fate of Shrummy?

SCOTUS decisions or FLOTUS fashions?

Dennis Kucinich or Howard Dean?

The Jewish vote as a policy matter or the Jewish vote as a political matter?

The bridge to the 21st century or the bridge over 8th Avenue?

Allison Dobson's press wrangling skills or Allison Janney's?

Frankly, we can't decide, but we hope to have enough wisdom and judgment to choose correctly more often than not the rest of the way.

Today, President Bush speaks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee at the Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C.

Sen. Kerry participates in a conversation on economic opportunity at the Portland Metropolitan Workforce Training Center, Portland, Ore., and attends a staff party at his headquarters, Washington, D.C.

First Lady Laura Bush attends a Larry Diedrich for Congress luncheon, Sioux Falls, S.D., attends a rally with BC'04 supporters at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nev., and attends a fundraiser at a private residence, Las Vegas, Nev.

Former President George H.W. Bush attends fundraiser for Bush-Cheney '04 in London at 11:00 am ET. The "Stop the War Coalition" plans to picket the London hotel hosting the Republicans Abroad dinner.

9/11 Commission hearings begin in New York, N.Y.

The Senate resumes consideration of the HR 3104, providing medals to servicemen and women. A vote will occur at approximately 11:15 am ET. Senate will then resume consideration of the DOD authorization bill.

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect:

President Bush addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington this morning, and ABC News' Ann Compton Notes that President Bush's introduction was interrupted by applause eight times, including two standing ovations and a "four more years" chant.

AP's Scott Lindlaw reports that the speech comes amid concerns over a recent Israeli offensive in the Gaza strip. LINK

"Aides expected Bush to steer clear of that issue, saying he was likely to deliver his standard caution that Israel has a right to defend itself, but should use as much restraint as possible when doing so," Lindlaw reports.

Lindlaw Notes the political implications: "Jewish voters preferred Democrat Al Gore over Bush by a 4-to-1 margin in 2000. But Bush's political advisers think even a slight increase in support among Jewish voters could help Bush in what they expect to be another tight election."

BC04 chief strategist Matt Dowd sizes up recent polling numbers for the Washington Times' Sammon and reiterates that "the election could be decided by a relatively small shift in support." LINK

"'If his approval numbers move above 50, it's very difficult to lose. If his numbers move below 40, it's very difficult to win. Those are facts,'" Dowd said.

Dan Bartlett sums it up this way: "'Polls are a snapshot in time,' he said. 'And the snapshot right now is one of very troubling pictures from the prison abuse fallout, as well as difficult fighting that is taking place on the ground in Iraq.'"

In a quick trip to Atlanta yesterday, President Bush raised $3.2 million for the Republican Party. LINK

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's team of Baxter and Pearson put the fundraiser into perspective: "For the price of a small economy sedan, some 300 attendees were treated to steak, potatoes, and -- according to one donor -- 'a medley of greens.'"

For $300,000 you too can be a "super ranger." LINK

CNBC's Alan Murray puts on his Dow Jones cap and looks at how Alan Greenspan (soon to raise interest rates?) and Prince Bandar (can't seem to keep oil prices below $30 a barrel) may not be providing all the help they can to the Bush-Cheney re-elect. LINK

President George H. W. Bush heads across the pond to London to collect cash for the BC04 re-election campaign, at "the only major fund-raiser being held outside the United States," reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Emling. LINK

"'There is a large contingent of Americans living in London, and we felt we wanted to help build support there for the campaign,' said Scott Stanzel, a spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign in Washington."

But it is not just the Republicans tapping into money abroad, Emling reports. "Earlier this month, Kerry's sister attended a cocktail reception in Dublin, Ireland, where guests were asked to contribute at least $250 apiece. Diana Kerry, who has lived overseas and is chairwoman of Americans Overseas for Kerry, also has appeared at fund-raisers in London and Paris."

A new report by Texans for Justice found that "358 of Bush's top 511 fund-raisers are corporate executives or business owners and that 99 work in the financial industry. The report says that 91 top fund-raisers are lawyers or lobbyists," Bloomberg's Jonathan Salant reports. LINK

Roll Call's Paul Kane turns in an extensive analysis of the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries, reporting that thanks to supporters of her husband, the First Lady's charitable foundation "has quietly secured $21 million in pledges over the past two years, turning it into one of the nation's biggest charities linked to a political figure."

Kane Notes that the First Lady's charity, "though fast-growing, also pales in financial comparison to the foundation controlled by the woman who would succeed her -- Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)."

ABC News Vote 2004: Sen. John Kerry:

Sen. Kerry spent some quality time with reporters on the flight from Topeka to Portland allowing Jodi Wilgoren and David Rosenbaum of the New York Times to provide a keen look at the fine line the candidate is trying to walk on Iraq. LINK

"'It's a dangerous situation,' Mr. Kerry told reporters on his campaign plane. 'You have to give the president some room to get things done, but if he doesn't do what he has to do '"

"His voice trailed off, and then Mr. Kerry added, 'It's a very difficult thing, but I think the president has to lead. Really lead.'"

"Heading into the general election campaign, Mr. Kerry now must try to benefit from the rise in antiwar sentiment or at least block Ralph Nader from doing so. But Mr. Kerry also wants to be perceived as a strong potential commander in chief, one who holds the welfare of the country and its troops paramount."

Note too the props given to Howard Dean courtesy of Ed Markey and Mary Beth Cahill.

Jeff Mapes and Janie Har of the Oregonian Note that "Kerry still had to worry about today's Oregon primary. Although his aides are confident Kerry will win handily, his last remaining mainstream Democratic rival, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, has put all of his energies into Oregon and has campaigned here for a full month." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Matea Gold Noticed some Deaniacs in the Portland crowd of 4,000 yesterday. LINK

"There was no evidence of the antagonism that existed between the men when they were competing to be the Democratic nominee earlier this year."

"Kerry told reporters Monday that the former governor had been very helpful since he dropped out of the race, calling occasionally with advice."

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne writes that President Bush has set up a nice trap for John Kerry on the fiscal front, and that while Democratic deficit hawks are willing to forgive Kerry for not focusing more on deficit reduction, "During a campaign, Kerry will never be able to come up with a fully satisfactory set of trade-offs between taxing and spending. But he can challenge Bush to be honest about his own plans." LINK

The Boston Globe's Brian Mooney reports that a lot of academics are "breaking overwhelmingly" for Kerry over Bush and writing checks to back it up. What say you about that Mr. O'Reilly? LINK

The AP's Lolita Baldor has tidbits from Kerry's latest financial disclosure forms. LINK

Lloyd Grove gets Tony Blankley, Donna Brazile, Betsy Gotbaum, James Carville ("not commenting"), and Kevin Madden ("not going to comment") to assess the political ramifications of Alexandra Kerry's wardrobe. Apparently there are none. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry:

Adam Nagourney and Dick Stevenson were both in Topeka, Kan., yesterday. (That's a sentence that has never appeared in The Note before and we doubt it will again.) The New York Times scribes trailed John Kerry and President Bush who were both on hand (albeit a few hours apart) for the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case, Brown vs. Board of Education. LINK

Here is the substantive graph from the Times duo: "As an indication of the extent to which the 2004 presidential race provided the backdrop for the day's ceremonies, Mr. Kerry received his loudest applause when he assailed the Bush administration for failing to finance its signature education law known as No Child Left Behind, the same law Mr. Bush later cited in talking about ways the government was working to end educational disparities."

But here is the color that will no doubt be your favorite part of the story: "When Mr. Kerry arrived at the airport to leave Topeka, he was instructed to quickly move his chartered jet off the runway before Air Force One approached and forced a shutdown of airspace. Mr. Kerry bristled when an aide, David Morehouse, instructed him to hurry and sit down."

"'Well, we have to taxi first, David,' he responded."

The Washington Post's Mike Allen and Dan Balz wrap the separate appearances of President Bush and Sen. Kerry at events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision. LINK

The Chen/Gold Los Angeles Times take on the presidential candidates descending upon Topeka: LINK

And Frank James of the Chicago Tribune: LINK

The Boston Globe's Wayne Washington and Pat Healy combine to write up the separate but both-in-Topeka appearances by the President and Senator Kerry on Monday, Noting that "neither man mentioned the other by name." LINK

"The Bush-Cheney campaign has produced more negative TV ads than the campaign of Sen. John Kerry" but the money spent by outside anti-Bush groups meant the amount of money spent on attacks aimed at each candidates is about the same, reports USA Today's Mark Memmott in an outstanding analysis. LINK

Memmott reports that a USA Today study found "at least $45 million, nearly two-thirds of the $70.5 million spent so far by the Bush-Cheney campaign, has been to air its seven negative ads."

Battleground state voters may already be weary of the onslaught of campaign ads this early in the election season, writes David Jackson of the Dallas Morning News. LINK

But, "[e]ven if millions of viewers see the same ads repeatedly, that's just fine with folks in both campaigns. Repetition, they say, is the key to reinforcing their projected images, whether it's President Bush as a steady leader or John Kerry as an agent for change."

The AP's Sharon Theimer reports, "Tobacco and food giant Altria Group Inc. is asking federal regulators to sign off on its plan to run magazine ads contrasting the policies" of Bush and Kerry. LINK

The politics of gas prices:

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman looks at the fire President Bush is taking over gas prices -- from business allies in the oil refining and chemical industries, as well as his political opponents across the aisle. Senate Democrats are expected to push today for Bush to release up to 60 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Industry types say the Administration should take a first step by stopping the daily shipment of 170,000 barrels of oil to the reserve per day. The current stockpile stands at a record 660 million barrels. The capacity is 700 million. LINK

"Congressional Democrats stepped up pressure Monday on the Bush administration to ease gasoline prices by releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, but administration officials plan to keep adding to the reserve until some time next year," writes Edmund Andrews of the New York Times. LINK

More Andrews: "But administration officials remain opposed to any change in policy, saying the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was never intended to be used to move oil prices. Administration officials said on Monday that selling reserves would have a minuscule effect on gasoline prices and that the government stockpiles were intended to cope with true emergencies rather than simply high prices."

This morning, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe will deliver a speech criticizing President Bush for rising gas prices, try to make the issue front-and-center (for part of this week, anyway) in the minds of voters, and generally accuse the President of being a little too friendly with big (oil) business. Some excerpts:

"You'd think that given this threat to America's prosperity, our President would be doing everything he could think of in his power to save America's families from getting hit with higher prices at the pump and at the checkout counter. But George Bush hasn't lifted a finger."

"In 2000, then-Governor Bush said he would "jawbone" his buddies in the oil business to get them to lower prices instead of profiting off of Americans' pain at the pump."

"Four years later, they haven't heard a peep from the President. George Bush admitted he hasn't bothered to pick up the phone to call the Saudi's to stop squeezing the American economy."

"While big oil companies are awash in profits -- and Americans are paying more than ever -- the Bush Administration has slashed funding for the clean, renewable energy sources that create jobs at home and keep us out of danger in the Middle East. Clean, renewable energy makes sense for Americans struggling to pay at the gas pump. It makes sense for jobs. It makes sense for our environment. It makes sense for our national security. The only thing it doesn't make sense for is oil industry profits. And that's why George Bush and renewable energy mix like big oil and water."

The politics of same-sex marriage:

The Washington Post's Alan Cooperman and Jonathan Finer wrap personal stories of the same-sex couples who wed yesterday with a little history of the issue and some sociopolitical observations: "It was a day in which stereotypes were not only broken but also turned inside out, in which liberal lesbians expressed unstinting patriotism and conservative clergy members denounced the nation's moral and political trajectory." LINK

The Wall Street Journal Notes the rush for same-sex couples to get married may have as much to do with a window of opportunity as it does with excitement. "Aside from being eager to fulfill hopes for themselves and the future, the couples said they made haste out of fear that the option of legal marriage, afforded to them by a historical Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision in November, might not be available forever, and could be foreclosed by politicians in the future."

The Boston Globe's Yvonne Abraham and Michael Paulson report, "Attorneys general from Connecticut and Rhode Island issued opinions indicating that gay marriages may be recognized in their jurisdictions, echoing a statement from New York's Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The opinions, while nonbinding, may hasten what many expect to be the next battle over gay marriage, whether the rights granted in Massachusetts have legal force elsewhere." LINK

The Globe's Raphael Lewis and Stephanie Ebbert report, "It appears that Romney administration lawyers are taking action to seek nullification of marriage licenses issued to out-of-staters once the licenses are delivered to the state Registry of Vital Records and Statistics." LINK

And the Globe's Rick Klein writes, "Lobbyists for some groups that oppose gay marriage made the rounds at the State House yesterday, encouraging lawmakers to continue to stand up against gay marriage. Their most immediate agenda item was asking House and Senate members to oppose a proposal that would make it far easier for out-of-state gay couples to wed in Massachusetts." LINK

The Chicago Sun-Times' Web version packages yesterday's scene as set by AP's David Crary with a sidebar by the paper's legal affairs reporter, Abdon Pallasch, explaining that Illinois will not recognize the marriages of same-sex couples in other states. LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Stevenson Swanson follows the nuptials of several same-sex couples yesterday, ending with a protest at the Cook County marriage bureau when a lesbian couple could not obtain a marriage license. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds:

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette personalizes the legalization of gay marriage by talking to gay couples who tied the knot yesterday or who will be in the coming days. LINK

People without health care from 29 counties in Western Pennsylvania, specifically those on the waiting list for the state's two-year-old adultBasic program, will be mailed information next week on how to obtain their $100 voucher for use at 88 community health centers in Western Pennsylvania. Just over 21,000 people in that area are covered by adultBasic, with 36,000 on the waiting list, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. LINK

"Health care costs, along with worldwide competition and pricing pressures, dominated a recent meeting of Seacoast area manufacturers," reports the Manchester Union Leader. LINK

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that 171 Pennsylvania school superintendents in 19 Western Pennsylvania counties spoke out against the "critical flaws" in the No Child Left Behind Act, i.e. calls for new programs and employees, but without the funding. LINK

The Philadelphia Inquirer leads with Iraq and the car bombing that killed Saleem. LINK

The front page of the Toledo Blade screams "Suicide bomber kills leader of Iraqi council." Below the fold? Gay marriage. LINK

The Toledo Blade reports of partisan fighting over whether Lucas County should purchase $4 million worth of Diebold optical scan voting equipment in time for the November elections. LINK

The Akron Beacon Journal writes of a local young female army reservist who lays comatose at Walter Reed after being wounded in Iraq. LINK

The Arizona Republic reports, "Dressed in white to symbolize purity, thousands of Arizonans rallied at the state Capitol at noon Monday to protest gay marriage." LINK

The Arizona Republic writes up the large rise of independent voters in the state. "As of March 1, independents accounted for 23.3 percent of Arizona's electorate, a leap from 14.5 percent exactly four years earlier and from 17.6 percent at the time of the 2000 presidential election." LINK

"The non-party, expected to grow even more by November's general election, is nearly two-thirds the size of the state Democratic Party and is approaching 60 percent of the GOP's strength."

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch front page covers the learning gap between black and white students as part of their series on the Brown v. Board of Education Anniversary, but also covers the Saleem killing, and wire stories on gay marriage and the Supreme Court decision on the disabled. LINK

Will you be able to rack up Mileage Plus miles on the new Independence Air flights from Manchester to Dulles? LINK


The Boston Globe's Peter Canellos vets General Clark and concludes that "Kerry could do far worse." LINK

The Miami Herald's Lesley Clark stirs the pot on the possibility of a Florida senator being on the short list. LINK

The politics of Iraq:

The Washington Post's Daniel Williams looks at the effects of yesterday's car bomb that killed the head of the Iraqi Governing Council, creating a "feeling among Iraqi and U.S. officials and common citizens that the country is almost unmanageable." LINK

"Inside the Green Zone, the heavily fortified U.S. administration compound that Salim was about to enter when the suicide bomber struck, expectations are grim. 'It will take a lot of doing for this not to end in a debacle,' a senior occupation official said. 'There is no confidence in the coalition. Why should there be?'"

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank examines the state of the "Iraq Stabilization Group," which currently appears "unstable." LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Tom Hundley reports that British Prime Minister Tony Blair's numbers are worse than those of President Bush -- a poll published in the Sunday Times showed that 46 percent of those asked said Blair should step down before the next election, expected in about a year. Twenty-two percent said he should go soon after the election, and 61 percent said they no longer trust Blair, Hundley reports. Two reasons: the war in Iraq and the Prime Minister's association with the President. LINK

The politics of national security:

Perhaps Dr. Rice was doing a bit of her own curtain raising for the President's AIPAC speech when she struck hopeful tones after meeting with the Palestinian prime minister in Germany. LINK

Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress will no longer be receiving monthly payments totaling $335,000 from the Department of Defense. And according to the New York Times it may have not been the wisest investment in the first place. LINK

"Internal reviews by the United States government have found that much of the information provided as part of the classified program before American forces invaded Iraq last year was useless, misleading or even fabricated."

David Brooks sees the current difficulties in Iraq as "quintessentially American." LINK

The Washington Post's Sari Horwitz spends a day in the life of the Homeland Security Operations Center. LINK

Prison abuse scandal:

The New York Times reports the Armed Services Committee will not wait until after the Defense appropriations bill is finished, but will instead be hearing testimony from Gen. Abizaid, Lt. Gen. Sanchez, and Maj. Gen. Miller tomorrow. LINK

The New York Times' Schmitt and Jehl continue to dig through the 6,000 pages of the Taguba report. The duo finds the "highest-level confirmation" to date that military intelligence officers directed military guards on preparing detainees for interrogation. LINK

The politics of human rights:

The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler reports that the White House has released its previously delayed report on U.S. efforts to promote human rights. This comes "one day after a memo by White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales emerged that had dismissed some of the provisions of the Geneva Conventions as "quaint."" LINK


"A Senate committee investigating millions of dollars in fees paid to powerful Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff and public relations executive Michael Scanlon also plans to examine $500,000 in contributions from Scanlon's firm to the Republican Governors Association," reports Tom Edsall of the Washington Post. The catch is that the money, donated for the 2002 election wasn't disclosed until April -- an accounting error, says the RGA. LINK

Brown v. Board of Education:

The Chicago Tribune's Lori Olszewski looks at the newest weapon in the arsenals of those looking to fight inequities in the classrooms: lawsuits against states based on how they fund their schools. The lawsuits argue for equal funding among school districts and are raising questions about the larger educational goals that schools and students should be meeting, and how to make sure that schools are adequately equipped to educate kids to meet those goals. LINK

From the outside:

This morning, the New Democrat Network releases two new television ads (one 30 seconds and one 60 seconds) in Spanish and English, featuring some prominent Latino lawmakers, including New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Reps. Loretta Sanchez and Bob Menendez, encouraging Hispanic voters to vote Democratic. The spots are part of NDN's current campaign, running in Arizona, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico. The English translations of the scripts follow.

"Positive" (30 seconds):

Bill Richardson: We are more than a political party, we are a movement of the people.

Adolfo Carrion: It is to create more jobs to increase minimum wage.

Loretta Sanchez: It is also to improve public education for our children.

Raul Martinez: And support universal medical insurance to benefit all.

Bob Menendez: Join the democratic movement so that we can all have a better life.

Bill Richardson: The Journey has Begun.

"Unidos" (60 seconds):

Rep. Menendez: Hello, I'm Bob Menendez, Democratic Congressman from New Jersey. As a Democrat I have always fought for our community so that our families can get ahead and have a brighter future.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez: Hello, I'm Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, Democrat from California. All my life I have supported more and better jobs, and increases in the minimum wage - because our community deserves more opportunities for a better life.

Mayor Raul Martinez: Hello, I am Raul Martinez, Mayor of Hialeah in Florida. I support our public schools, for they are the vehicle for our children to obtain a good education.

Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion: Hi, I'm Adolfo Carrion -- County Executive of the Bronx in New York City. As a Democrat I am in favor of access to health care coverage for all....

Gov. Bill Richardson: Hello, I'm Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico… As a Democrat, my priority has always been to help our community so that all Hispanics can have a better life.

VO: There is no doubt -- With the Democratic agenda, Hispanics everywhere will have a better life.

On screen: Join the Democratic movement.

ABC News Vote 2004: the Senate:

Kristen McQueary writes up day two of data from the Daily Southtown poll in the Chicago Sun-Times, which shows Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama leading Republican Jack Ryan, 48 percent to 40 percent. She also Notes that "Previous polls and Obama's internal polls had suggested a wider gap." Both sides have their spin on the 8-point gap, of course, but McQueary posits that Obama is getting more Republican support than Ryan is getting from the Democratic side. Plus it's always nice to see a quote from the svelte Robert Gibbs. LINK

ABC New Vote 2004: the House:

The race for South Dakota's at-large district is narrowing, according to a poll set to be released this evening. LINK

The AP's Nicholas Geranios looks at the Washington seat that former House Speaker Tom Foley lost in 1994 to current Rep. George Nethercutt, who is giving it up to run for the Senate. LINK

Roll Call's Chris Cillizza and Bree Hocking preview today's primary action in Kentucky and Oregon. You should find a copy of the paper immediately.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Sonji Jacobs reports that Vice President Cheney "brought political muscle and a flurry of fat checks to the re-election campaign of 12th District U.S. Rep. Max Burns at a fund-raising luncheon Monday." LINK


Knight Ridder's Maria Recio reports on Ralph Nader's financial disclosure forms, running through a whole bunch of things only to finish up by Noting that he's worth about the same as he was when he ran in 2000. LINK

The conventions:

The AP's Sharon Theimer shares with us what fat checks will get fat cats at the phat conventions. LINK

The AP's Devlin Barrett reports, "The New York City Parks Department on Monday denied an appeal from an anti-war group that wants to stage a massive demonstration in Central Park on the eve of the Republican National Convention." LINK

The New York Post's Cindy Adams has some scoop on what the Ritz is planning for convention week. LINK

"Here's what our Ritz Hotels are doing: Elephant topiaries at the entrance, red white and blue flowers in the lobbies, complimentary chocolate elephants and peanuts in the rooms, elephant images projected outdoors nightly."

On the Hill:

The Hill's Earle reports of Democratic fears that the Republican Senate Leadership will follow the model they set with unemployment benefits and seek votes with tidy one-vote margins to highlight John Kerry's absence from his day job. LINK

"The war in Iraq and President Bush's shaky poll numbers have some House Republicans expressing doubt about their legislative agenda and questioning why the GOP-led Congress has deferred many major decisions to the administration," writes The Hill's Kaplan. LINK

You won't be too surprised to find out Ray LaHood is one such Republican.

Democratic leaders Pelosi and Daschle will use Ronald Reagan's famous "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" question as part of a "calibrated floor strategy" this election cycle, reports The Hill. LINK


States are subject to the provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act; so says the Supreme Court. LINK


The investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's name "may be entering a critical phase," reports the Los Angeles Times. LINK

"A special prosecutor has asked reporters for the Washington Post and Newsday to sit for questions in connection with the investigation of the case, the papers acknowledged Monday. Other journalists might also be targeted for questioning, sources said."

Key Democrats in the Senate continue pushing to reopen hearings on the nomination of Defense Department general counsel William J. Haynes II for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, reports the Washington Post's Helen Dewar. LINK

Sen. Charles Schumer has amassed a lot of money ($21 million in the bank) to run against a little known Republican Assemblyman, which causes the New York Times' Ray Hernandez to wonder if Schumer is preparing for a 2006 gubernatorial run. LINK

It's "Gov. Reformovich" against Republican state lawmakers complaining about pork in Illinois. LINK

Hey Arnold! The Associated Press reports that former California governor and current Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown plans to run for attorney general in 2006. LINK re-launched yesterday with a new look. LINK

Executive Editor Alexandra Walker tells The Note, "Tom Paine's new Web site gives readers -- who may or may not identify with our political bias -- a window into the best of progressive thinking on what's happening throughout the nation, in Washington, on campaigns for energy alternatives, an economy that supports working people, Medicare and other issues."

Politics meets media:

The New York Post's Lou Limerick writes Michael Moore's latest film is more hype than substance. He writes it "falls far short of delivering on the filmmaker's extravagant promises of election-swinging revelations." LINK

The Washington Post's Desson Thompson finds much more to like about both Moore and his movie: "To watch this movie yourself is to realize with dawning appreciation that the director of "Bowling for Columbine" has finally learned to put his movie where his mouth is." LINK

Ed O'Keefe's Kerry campaign report:

TOPEKA, KAN., May 17 -- As Sen. John Kerry's Miami Air 737 idled on Topeka's Forbes Field, the traveling press corps teased the Senator about the rushed departure. The candidate smiled and said, "Oh yeah, what's his name."

The often timely President Bush ran 45 minutes late and usually late Kerry rushed out of town, as his charter ceded the Kansas skies for the airspace-protected arrival of Air Force One.

In an 18-minute speech on the grounds of the Sunflower State's Capitol, the presumptive Democratic nominee spoke of progress made and the steps yet to come, stressing an Edwards-esque need to "renew our commitment to one America."

Kerry did not, however, comment on same-sex marriage, the controversial issue brewing in Massachusetts.

En route to the 36th state of his presidential campaign, Kerry made a rare extended appearance in the press cabin of his campaign charter.

Taking seat 12C for a half-hour chat, Kerry reminisced about his days in the cookie business, as part owner of Kilvert & Forbes, a cookie shop which still exists in Boston's Faneuil Hall (LINK).

The candidate admitted he and his partner, who named the shop with their mother's maiden names, once plotted franchise expansion. Kerry lamented with a laugh, "I could've been Mrs. Fields."

But, he recalled, "I thought it was smarter to earn $23,000 a year as Lieutenant Governor."

Approaching Oregon, Kerry said of Ralph Nader, who caused Gore headaches but did not cost him the state in 2000, "I'm not worried about it. I think my position is clear, and will become clearer every day."

On Monday evening in Portland, the eclectic grouping of Dr. Howard Dean, "Lord of the Rings' Sean "Sam not Frodo" Astin, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Evergreen front man Art Alexakis, and Kerry rescued Vietnam Vet Jim Rassmann had one thing in common: rallying for John Kerry.

Thousands gathered in and around Pioneer Courthouse Square, waving from rooftops and windowsills, as several eagle-eyed sharpshooters stood watch atop a nearby Nordstrom's.

Kerry, speaking 100 yards from the Square's trademark sign posts, one of which teased "Rose Garden 1.2 mi," led an energetic rally, praising his former rival, and joking in reference to the near-Triple Crowner, "Because of (my nomination rivals) I get to feel like Smarty Jones: only one more race to win."

Kerry makes an additional appearance in Portland, Ore., on Tuesday morning before heading back to Washington for a day of administrative business. The Senator fundraises Thursday evening in Boston and in Greenwich, Conn., on Friday.

And as Memorial Day approaches, the Senator also took a few moments to contemplate a little summer vacation on Monday.

Kerry lists the $9 million Heinz estate on Nantucket as the most likely vacation site but, perhaps inspired by the surroundings and a desire to keep the Secret Service on its (wet) toes, also expressed an interest in windsurfing the Columbia River.

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET): —8:35 am: President Bush speaks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee at the Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C. —8:45 am: The 9/11 Commission opens the day's hearings at the New School, New York, N.Y. —8:45 am: Sens. John McCain and Joe Lieberman and former Rep. Bill Frenzel speak on the "looming fiscal crisis facing the nation" at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Washington, D.C. —9:00 am: The Senate Armed Services holds a closed briefing with U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba and other members of the military at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —9:30 am: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Washington, D.C. —9:45 am: The Senate meets for morning business —10:00 am: Off-camera gaggle by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan —10:00 am: DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe speaks on the rising price of gasoline under President Bush at the DNC Media Center, Washington, D.C. —10:00 am: Energy Secretary Abraham speaks at an Energy Daily media breakfast on energy legislation and oil/gas prices, Washington, D.C. —10:30 am: Sens. Ron Wyden and Byron Dorgan hold a news conference to discuss spending on Iraqi reconstruction at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —10:30 am: Rep. Phil English holds a news conference to discuss legislation to "close campaign finance reform loopholes," Washington, D.C. —11:00 am: Former President George H.W. Bush attends fundraiser for Bush-Cheney '04, London, England. —11:15 am: The Senate votes on passage of the medals bill. —11:15 am: Sens. Hillary Clinton and James Talent hold a news conference to discuss military healthcare readiness at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —12:00 pm: Sen. John Kerry participates in a conversation on economic opportunity at the Portland Metropolitan Workforce Training Center, Portland, Ore. —12:00 pm: Sen. Mitch McConnell and U2 lead singer Bono hold a press briefing on global AIDS, Washington, D.C. —12:00 pm: Secretary of Labor Chao addresses members of the American International Automobile Dealers Association, Washington, D.C. —12:30 pm: The House of Representatives meets for its morning hour —12:30 pm: The Democratic Policy Committee holds a closed meeting at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —12:30 pm: The Republican Policy Committee holds a closed meeting at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —12:45 pm: On-camera briefing by Secretary McClellan —12:45 pm: Sens. Schumer, Mikulski, Wyden, Stabenow, and others announce new effort to influence the Secretary of Energy to release stored government oil reserves to lower gas prices, Washington, D.C. —12:50 pm: Mrs. Bush attends a Larry Diedrich for Congress luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel, Sioux Fall, S.D. —1:00 pm: Politics Live on ABC News Live and AOL —2:00 pm: All members of the House of Representatives are invited to view additional photos of the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners, Washington, D.C. —2:00 pm: U2 lead singer Bono helps mark the fourth anniversary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, Washington, D.C. —2:00 pm: U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Zoellick and Australian Trade Minister Mark Vaile sign the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement, Washington, D.C. —3:00 pm: A senior Defense Department official and State Department official will conduct a background briefing on the subject of the Administrative Review Procedures for detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Washington, D.C. —4:00 pm: Members of the House hold a members only briefing with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Washington, D.C. —5:30 pm: First Lady Laura Bush speaks to BC'04 supporters at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nev. —6:30 pm: Gen. Wesley Clark addresses the Afghanistan Reconstruction Steering Group on solutions to Afghanistan's security, Washington, D.C. —7:30 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a staff party at his headquarters, Washington, D.C. —10:00 pm: Laura Bush attends a fundraiser at a private residence, Las Vegas, Nev.