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NEWS SUMMARY

How much traction do efforts to expand the child tax credit get?

Can Democrats actually take political advantage of the situation?

Will Republicans punt, stall, or engage in some other tactic easily described via sports metaphor?

Does the John Kerry and Howard Dean feuding continue or peter out?

Does the Chuck Grassley and Bill Thomas feuding continue or peter out?

Do Elisabeth Bumiller and David Sanger come home from Europe, or just stay there?

Do any SCOTUS decisions with major political implications get handed down?

How much do the Democratic presidential candidates step up their talk of nowhere-to-be-found weapons of mass destruction?

Do loyal Note readers get to hear our Webby Award five-word acceptance speech?

With the president still globe-trotting (with political implications still too geo for our pea brains), there is a lot of domestic political travel going on, and Congress is itching to legislate.

Senator Kerry is in New Hampshire today — so is Senator Edwards!. Kerry disappears Tuesday and pops up in New York City for a women's luncheon at the Yale Club.

Lynne Cheney is in New Hampshire today, too, speaking at the Federation Women's Lilac Luncheon in Manchester.

Senator Graham has a closed-press fundraiser in Pacific Palisades, California. Tuesday, he has two fundraising luncheons in Long Beach and San Francisco. He'll spend a full day in San Francisco on Wednesday and does a Sillicon Valley tour on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Reverend Al Sharpton's "Convoy Against Racism" stops in Shreveport, Louisiana. Howard Dean attends a "Downtown Dean Series" event in New York City.

Wednesday brings the start of the three-day Campaign For America's Future conference at the Omni Shoreham. Seven presidentials are scheduled to address the legions of grass-top liberal activists on Thursday and Friday, joint-yet-separate-appearance style.

Wednesday is also the National Dean in 2004 Meetup Day. Dean plans to deliver the graduation address at the Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in New York.

Thursday, Dean has a National Press Club health care event. That night, New York Gov. George Pataki helps the New Jersey GOP get more money.

The big economic number out this week is the unemployment figure for May. That'll be released Thursday morning. ABCNEWS' Schindelheim says that economists expect to see that the economy lost another 48,000 jobs last month.

Friday, the American Federation of Teachers opens a big convention in Washington and Congressman Jim Clyburn hosts a conference on historically black colleges and universities in South Carolina.

On Saturday, Kerry address the Massachusetts State Convention in Lowell, Massachusetts. And it's Senator Graham's turn to Hear It From the Heartland with Senator Tom Harkin in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Don't tell anyone, but there's a big fundraiser Saturday night at Senator Edwards' campaign headquarters in Raleigh.

On Sunday, June 8, Iowa Governor Tom "Two Tier" Vilsack and Lt. Governor Sally Pederson will picnic at the Old Thresher's Grounds in Mt. Pleasant. On hand are expected to be Governor Dean, Senator Graham, Senator Lieberman, and Reverend Sharpton.

Our favorite line of the press release: "An annual event since 2000 … "

And on Sunday, Hillary Clinton kicks off the promotion of her new book with a turn on ABC News with Barbara Walters.

Big Casino budget politics:

David Firestone of the New York Times goes back to the "the Bush tax cut is more regressive than even Paul Krugman thought at one time" well, looking at some "newly discovered" citizens who won't benefit at all or very much, and the Republicans in the administration and on the Hill continue to use every rhetorical trick they can think of to avoid confronting the chart showing the tax cut distribution by income groups as a matter of absolute dollars (as opposed to a percentage of cut). LINK

J. Weisman in Saturday's Washington Post had defeaning Democrats deficit denounciations. LINK

Over the weekend, the Des Moines Register said that Senator Grassley plans to push for more tax cuts to make sure no taxpayer is left behind. LINK

The Wall Street Journal picks up the same story today, and makes it clear that Democrats and some Republicans are looking to have some votes that the White House might find less than totally comfortable.

Wearing his trademark National Journal-green budget hawk hat, Ron Brownstein deals with allegations that Bush deliberately wants to run up the deficit to stymie spending by Democrats in the future. (A strategist close to the White House says "naw.") LINK

Well, then: what the heck is Bush trying to do?

Read Ron to find out, but here's a hint: "[W]hether deliberately or not, Bush is setting in motion forces that could produce a fiscal meltdown in the years ahead … "

Saturday, the Des Moines Register ed board expressed unhappiness with the Bush tax cut. LINK

Joe Klein in Time seems morally outraged (as Mr. Klein can get … ) about the child tax credit situation. LINK

And the Washington Post ed board keeps up its own moral outrage over the same issue today. LINK

As does Bob Herbert. LINK

As does Tom Oliphant. LINK

In Sunday's Washington Post Outlook section, Anna Bernasek of Fortune magazine did a pretty convincing Krugman imitation in writing about the Bush tax cuts. LINK

There was also an excellent clip 'n' save on "sunsets and pumpkins." LINK

Robin Toner goes (again) to Iowa; Senator Grassley (again) trashes the White House on Medicare and Bill Thomas on most everything; Robin Toner and Senator Grassley (again) agree that Medicare reform is going to have to take rural interests into account. LINK

Bob Novak makes a sly Karl Malone reference in writing up his new favorite theme (trotted out on CNN last week) — the White House is not fully in love with Bill Thomas. LINK

Novak (like Toner) suggests that Grassley-Thomas tension might make Medicare reform tougher than it otherwise would be (which is tough to begin with).

The AP's David Espo reports, "President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress launch an intensive drive this week to enact Medicare prescription drug legislation, hoping that a GOP government can end years of partisan gridlock." LINK

"On the eve of a debate likely to resonate in the 2004 elections, administration officials and lawmakers agree a formidable array of obstacles must be cleared before legislation can reach Bush's desk."

"They involve policy — whether to offer all Medicare beneficiaries the same drug benefit, for example. They also include ideology — how large a role the government should play — and political considerations — how aggressively to seek Democratic support, particularly in the Senate."

"But by their own words, Bush and GOP leaders put the issue high on the legislative agenda, and the president is expected to actively press for the measure when he returns from a European trip."

Sunday's Washington Post had an outstanding page-one Dale Russakoff look at how the states are using budget gimmicks galore to paper over their shortfalls. LINK

Sheffield, Iowa's Dick Heimer slaps David Yepsen. LINK

ABC 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect:

Marshalltown native Terry Nelson got some huzzahs in Sunday's Des Moines Register . LINK

The Washington Post 's Dana Milbank had a PolNotes column on Sunday about how (brace yourself) Karl Rove has ties to some of the people working on the president's re-election effort. LINK

And Milbank closes with this: "But Rove, traveling with Bush in Poland on Friday, said he had no longstanding ties to Nelson, Devenish or Josefiak."

Seems to us that THAT'S the REAL story … .

ABC 2004: The Invisible Primary:

The New York rural cattle call ended up with a Sharpton no-show, and/but the biggest news seems to have been Governor Dean accusing Senator Kerry of stealing some of his lines.

After Kerry had left town, Dean sort of ripped into him for plagiarism, both with the press and in his speech.

The Kerry camp seemed bewildered, but all that spokesguy Robert Gibbs would say is "We are simply not going to play politics at that small a level."

Now, to be fair to Senator Kerry, Saturday wasn't the first time he gave a speech that had the ring of Howard Dean to it. We've heard him deliver his line about not needing a second Republican Party several times before, including at an EMILY's List gathering in late May.

And does Dean somehow claim sole ownership of the "Let's Be Democrats" theme?

The AP's Humbert faithfully Notes Dean's rip: "I heard he did a great job giving my speech." LINK

The Albany Times-Union Notes the "growing" rivalry but also Notes that "Both men received standing ovations … .," although the Humbert applause meter went higher for Dean. LINK

The New York Post liked the "Dean lite" line. LINK

As one New York political observer said piquantly: "They've got to stop fighting like this, it's embarassing. They must really hate each other."

The Note couldn't have said it better itself.

The Daily News' Joel Siegel lead with Kerry's Empire organization. LINK

USA Today 's Page becomes the latest to pass along warnings that Democrats' big-spending health care proposals, along with other social spending they'd like, may backfire.

The entire article is a must-read, complete with pithy bullet points; smartness about President Bush's preference for goals, not details; patient explanations of the credibility and money primaries; and a cute couplet of Jim Jordan quotes.

"Political analysts in both parties warn that the rush to stake a claim to an issue that will help candidates compete with one another in the early Democratic contests could boomerang and force the eventual nominee to defend an expensive and controversial promise against Republican attack in the general election next year." LINK

"Political analysts say some of the Democratic contenders are overlooking that lesson and others that were learned the hard way in 1994, when Clinton's proposal to overhaul health care flopped. The repercussions wounded his presidency and were blamed for Democrats losing control of the House of Representatives and Senate."

"The three most moderate Democrats running for president are avoiding the left-wing Take Back America rally in Washington Wednesday through Friday. Senators Joseph Lieberman, John Edwards and Bob Graham are not scheduled to appear," Bob Novak's Saturday column Notes. LINK

"Presidential supporters of Senator John Kerry, scheduled to speak Thursday afternoon, worry about his association with these activists. Old-timers remember Senator George McGovern's experience attending a conference of the left-wing National Welfare Rights Organization at which he endorsed a cash payment to all Americans. That idea helped sink his 1972 presidential candidacy in the general election."

Uh, Bob: Senator Edwards will attend (and has always been on the schedule), according to Ms. Palmieri.

The Associated Press looks at the march through Michigan to its Feb. 7, 2004 caucuses: LINK

More Senator Clinton being Shermanesque about '04 in the AP. LINK

The Washington Post 's Juliet Eilperin had a Sunday story on how Mr. Gephardt and his congressional colleagues how are running for president are tending to miss a lot of recorded votes, although Mr. Gephardt's attendance record is particularly poor. LINK

KERRY

Straight from the Middle East and fresh out of the pool, the Washington Post 's forever-young Laura Blumenfeld on Sunday wrote the "(f)irst in a series of occasional articles on the Democratic presidential candidates." ("This series will examine three essential elements of the campaigns: their message, their ambition and their ability to connect with voters.")

And the series started with the junior Senator from Massachusetts. LINK

It's one of the best takes on Kerry we have read, and you should make time for it.

Kerry reads her poety; plays her guitar; flies her in his plane; shows her the secret camouflage hat hidden in his briefcase; and shares one of his favorite quotes: "Kerry likes to quote the French writer Andre Gide: 'Don't try to understand me too quickly.'"

Blumenfeld produces something that will surely go in the fundraising pack, since it portrays the Senator as the kind of bigger-than-life figure that is him at his best.

The photo selections on the web are too cool for school. LINK

Sidebar one: the speech excerpt. LINK

Sidebar two: the pro forma fact file. LINK

The Boston Globe series on Kerry remains AWOL and TBD.

The Dallas Morning News on Saturday got Henry Cisneros to blurt out that he endorses Kerry. LINK

Then the AP's Beth Fouhy got Henry Cisneros on the phone to talk about it. LINK

"Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Friday the credibility of President Bush and U.S. intelligence agencies will be diminished significantly if evidence of weapons of mass destruction are not found in Iraq," the Des Moines Register 's Beaumont reports.

"But Kerry, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts who supported the war, said he and his rivals for the 2004 nomination who backed the president are blameless should no evidence turn up." LINK

"'Over time, if after all that is completed, there aren't any (weapons found), it's clearly a credibility issue with respect to not just the administration but the intelligence community,' Kerry said during a campaign stop in Des Moines."

The AP's Humbert reported that Senator Kerry "belittled President Bush's recent landing on an aircraft carrier and said Saturday that the Democrats' 'voicelessness of 2002' cost the party control of Congress." LINK

The New Hampshire Sunday News had this: "Theo Yedinsky, director of the New Hampshire Senate Democratic Caucus for the past 12 months, will serve as the New Hampshire political director for the John Kerry campaign beginning June 1, said Ken Robinson, state director." LINK

"Before relocating here a year ago to lead the state Senate Democrats' political committee, Yedinsky had worked for two national organizations, the Democratic Leadership Council and the New Democrat Network."

EDWARDS

The News and Observer's John Wagner (deeply visible during last night's C-SPAN "Road to the White House" taking copious Notes) had a longish story in the paper's features section over the weekend about the Man He Stalks — Senator Edwards. LINK

There are no gutted doves or French-speaking parakeets, but it does include a brief discussion of hair, and one reader has already touted the story's "brilliant phrasing."

Mr. Wagner winds through New Hampshire bringing us from hotel to coffee shop to private house party. You should read the whole thing. But until you do, here are just two Wagnerian tidbits for you on how the Senator copes with both his schedule and the press.

"In the coming months, Edwards is likely to spend far more time at places like this than with anyone in his family. He has been known to complain about early morning events or when his jogging time gets squeezed from the schedule. But aides say Edwards' drive and discipline far surpass other politicians with whom they've worked."

And:

"On the drive to Nashua, the site of the second house party, Walter Shapiro, a columnist for USA Today , is given a spot in Edwards' van. The practice of squeezing reporters in has become so frequent that on a previous trip Edwards jokingly asked if a reporter had been scheduled to interview him in bed that night."

And there is also text of a stump speech. LINK

In Iowa, Senator Edwards (D-Intelligence Committee) took on the "Where's The WMD" question, and blamed the raw data, and not the Congressional policy-makers who interpreted it.

"'I think we have to finish the process of looking and seeing what may be there that we don't know about now,' Edwards later told about 50 Democrats in Sioux City." "'Then we have to determine whether there is a disconnect between what we were being told . . . and what turns out to be true.'" LINK

He got some TV coverage for it. LINK

Edwards ambled into a drizzly Washington State Saturday where his "stock" speech met a friendly crowd. LINK

Wagner writes up the complaint against the Edwards campaign being filed with the FEC. LINK

According to the Raleigh News & Observer, Fantasy and Liquid Pleasure will be the headliners at a pair of home state "Edwards at 50" fundraisers.LINK

C. Tab Turner does an e-mail interview with the Washington Post … ..about Michael Douglas. LINK

DEAN

The Des Moines Register 's Tom Beaumont is quickly become one of the closest readers of the presidential candidates' tax cut policies.

"Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean now supports rolling back all of President Bush's tax cuts after saying for months he would keep in place some of the cuts enacted since Bush took office." LINK

"Dean, the former governor of Vermont, three weeks ago said he supported repealing the 2001 income tax rate cuts only for the top income bracket."

"Repealing the rate cuts for the top tax bracket would have provided enough money to pay for his plan to provide universal health care, pay for special education programs, and begin reducing the federal deficit, he said."

"But Dean publicly changed his position Wednesday when he released the following statement in response to Bush's signing of a new $350 billion tax-cut package: "We must repeal the entire package of cuts — both those signed today and those passed in 2001.'"

And check out the Graham elbow:

"Graham spokeswoman Kristian Denny said Dean's change of positions is likely due in part to national polls showing Americans favoring programs such as health care over tax cuts."

"'Gov. Dean needs to clarify his stance on tax cuts once and for all,' Denny said. 'It seems to depend on the polls and the issue of the day.'"

Is this a Pander? or just a pander?

"Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean warmed up a crowd of California public school teachers Sunday by brandishing his own short-lived teaching credential." LINK

"'I can personally say that I am the only person running for the presidency of the United States that knows what it's like to stand up without being able to go to the bathroom for five hours,' Dean said to hearty applause."

"Dean, 54, longtime Vermont governor and medical doctor, said he taught eighth-grade social studies for three months."

The Los Angeles Times'Elizabeth Mehren did the paper's Howard Dean profile yesterday. LINK

His young staffers are apparently known as "Deanyboppers." And Dean doesn't drink coffee.

Also: he's not the world's best listener, and the Kerry campaign will be happy to read that Dean "sometimes mangles his facts."

But the most amazing thing in the piece is that Dean has a "mastery (of) … .the rap sequence from the movie 'Bulworth.'"

And here are Dean's answers to that Times' cookie-cutter Q&A. LINK

The AP in New Hampshire says that Dean is picking up some 2000 Nader voters. LINK

LIEBERMAN

The Associated Press takes you click by click through Joe Lieberman's refurbished campaign website. LINK

There is lots to Note about it.

Senator Lieberman has visited Arizona three times since he announced his presidential candidacy. LINK

GEPHARDT

In the latest edition of Newsweek, George Will determines that Representative Gephardt looks pretty good on paper, and, perhaps more importantly, "his placid demeanor and flat cadences project a blend of economic populism and traditional values" that make him just plain likeable. LINK

Mr. Will also writes: "Why does the Democratic base so loathe Bush? Gephardt says it is not memories of 2000 ('It was,' he says, 'a tied election, and someone had to lose finally'). 'It's [Karl] Rove,' he says. 'Not Rove as a person, but a style.' Meaning a 'manipulative' way with the media. Gephardt is, however, impatient with those who obsess about such minutiae: 'I'd rather be debating health care than whether George Bush should have been in a helicopter or a plane to go to the aircraft carrier.'"

On Sunday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jo Mannies reported that the most recently declared candidate for Representative Gephardt's House seat is the wife of a man who briefly ran for the seat when Gephardt was running for president in 1988. LINK

The New York Post 's Page Six offers some details of next week's $500-a-plate Hollywood fundraiser for Representative Gephardt, thrown by "Pulp Fiction" producer Lawrence Bender (who, the Post Notes, joined Arianna Huffington for last year's anti-SUV campaign), and featuring Tony Bennett as the entertainment. LINK

The Kansas City Star's Steve Kraske reports, "In Kansas City for Truman Days, the annual gathering of Missouri Democrats, Gephardt ripped the tax cut bill that Bush signed last week, saying the reductions will lead to the demise of Medicare and Social Security and undermine public education." LINK

Gephardt also "pledged to sign [his proposed health care] bill at the Truman Museum in Independence, in the same auditorium where President Lyndon Johnson signed the Medicare law in 1965."

GRAHAM

How weird is this Liz Smith column item from yesterday?

"BET YOU can't name all the potential Democratic aspirants for president in 2004. Bet if you can name them, you can't differentiate between them. Here's your chance to know Senator Bob Graham, who is coming to New York on June 16 to be feted by Jennifer Bartlett, Wendy Wasserstein and his nephew Stephen Graham. They are partying at Jennifer's for a meet and greet. If you want to go, call (212) 472-3838. It doesn't cost anything to get acquainted with the senator, not yet, anyway!"

Here's the transcript of Wolf v. Graham. LINK

Senator Graham was on message this weekend, repeating his claim that the Bush Administration is hiding the 9/11 intelligence. LINK

The Associated Press' Jesse J. Holland reported on Sunday, "Two Senate committees want to investigate whether U.S. intelligence accurately pointed to banned weapons in Iraq as claimed by the Bush administration in going to war, senators said Sunday." LINK

MOSELEY BRAUN

Newsweek's Martha Brant visited Ambassador Moseley Braun's campaign headquarters. LINK

KUCINICH

Congressman Kucinich got the full DiStaso treatment this weekend. LINK

Tom Beamount is quickly becoming this cycle's top chronicler of the "Vegan On Meat" issue dynamic. LINK

Kucinich's Department of Peace proposal gets respectable treatment from the AP. LINK

IOWA

The Boston Herald's Noelle Straub takes a basic tour of Des Moines, from the billboard on the way from the airport ("Are you running for president?") to the meta-geography of candidate headquarters. LINK

Straub Notes the similarities in location ("two blocks apart on Locust Street") and color scheme (blue posters, white lettering) of the headquarters of bitter rivals Kerry and Dean, but adds that Graham is headed to Locust Street as well, with Edwards, departing his current digs "downtown," soon moving one block over.

Straub goes on to describe Gephardt's office all the way in West Des Moines, apart from the pack:

"Because he won the caucuses in 1988 and has greater name recognition here, Gephardt is expected to lead the crowd. Rivals play up the theme, saying that if he doesn't come in first it will severely damage his chances."

Straub nevertheless points out the caucses are still up for grabs, and ends with a quote from Kerry's state director John Norris: "' There's great opportunity here but I think it will be a while before the majority of Iowans come to make up their minds.'''

BIDEN

Facing the Nation, Senator Biden repeated his self-imposed fall deadline for deciding whether to make the race or not. LINK

Politics: Jim VandeHei had a fantastic, sympathetic look at Tom Daschle as one of many Democratic senators running in red states in 2004. LINK

Two sections in the overall excellent piece jumped right out at even a sleepy Googling monkey:

"(Daschle campaign manager Steve) Hildebrand said the campaign has assembled embarrassing information on several conservatives who are considering more attack ads against Daschle. The information includes videotape of a conservative activist discussing how he paid for his girlfriend's abortion."

"'You'll see us spending a lot of time attacking the attackers,' Hildebrand said."

(Make a Note to call Bernie Goldberg on the way that was written up.)

And this: "Daschle's campaign has blocked a group of local conservatives, called the Rushmore Policy Council, from using $1 million to attack him by raising public complaints."

"South Dakotans, who would make any civics professor smile with their detailed knowledge of politics here, are closely following the play by play. The clerk at the National Car Rental counter, upon realizing a Washington-based reporter was present, offered a proud thumbs-up as she detailed how Daschle had derailed the 'Rushmore' guys."

Oh, ARE they? LINK

Meanwhile, today in the Washington Post , Helen Dewar looks at a few of the senate recruiting problems the White House and the NRSC have had, but, of course, makes it clear that Democrats are having their own recruiting problems as well. LINK

Senate campaign insiders will scratch their heads at where Ms. Dewar set the bar for this one; media insiders will bemoan the Allen-Woodhouse Roll Call -y "so's your old man" quotes of which we long ago got sick.

Josh Bresnahan of Roll Call takes a look at the precarious financial state the two Democratic campaign committees on Capitol Hill.

"Six months into the 2004 election cycle, the House and Senate Democratic campaign committees are still wrestling with $11 million in combined debt, while the two GOP committees are now in the black, highlighting the widening disparity in financial outlooks for the parties."

"'They're screwed,' former two-term NRCC Chairman Tom Davis (Va.) said flatly of the prospects Democratic leaders now face."

"Democrats do have some factors working in their favor. The DCCC and DSCC are together sitting on more than $8 million in cash, while the NRSC and NRCC had a total of just $4.3 million in the bank as of April 30. This comes despite the fact that the two Republican committees have dramatically outraised the Democrats, $40 million to $15.2 million, between Jan. 1 and April 30."

"The DCCC plans to erase more than half of its $6 million debt by the end of June, according to committee officials. The DCCC had only paid off $4,150 of the total by the end of April."

In Sunday's New York Times , Robert Pear unfurled a cache of pharmaceutical industry documents he obtained, laying out plans to spend major cash to influence federal and state legislation that could affect the bottom line. LINK

And Mr. Pear had this squirm-inducing stuff:

"Its Democratic lobbyists, listed in recent reports to Congress, include former Representative Vic Fazio of California; David W. Beier, who was chief domestic policy adviser to Vice President Al Gore; Joel P. Johnson, who was a top aide to President Bill Clinton and to Senator Tom Daschle, the minority leader; and Nick Littlefield, former chief counsel for Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts."

"Republicans who reported lobbying for PhRMA include former Representatives Vin Weber of Minnesota and Bill Paxon of New York; Dave Larson, former health policy adviser to Bill Frist, now the Senate majority leader; Edwin A. Buckham, former chief of staff to Tom DeLay, now the House majority leader; and Scott Hatch, the son of Senator Hatch."

Steve Brill complained to Mickey Kaus about the lack of PhRMA's perspective in the article. LINK

USA Today has a handy guide to the as-yet un-decided SCOTUS cases: LINK

Marc Racicot and Jim Kolbe refused to be interviewed for Sheryl "'G' is for 'Gay'" Stolberg's Sunday New York Times look at how the Bush Administration's track record of avoiding being pinned down on homosexual issues might be in some danger. LINK

The Sunday edition of The (Columbia) State reports, "It might be hard to believe, but leaders of the Christian right community are fuming about President Bush." LINK

The un-bylined article continues, "At issue are questions about the administration's stance on gay rights and abortion. Some think there's a calculated Bush strategy to embrace and promote the homosexual agenda."

More: "The Christian right has a list of complaints with the Bush policy on homosexuality — from White House and top-level GOP meetings with gay groups to Bush's signing a District of Columbia appropriations bill that funded benefits for unmarried domestic partners."

The New York Post 's Frederic U. Dicker writes that Senator Schumer will run for reelection unopposed, given that the Republican party has been unable to find a strong candidate to challenge him. LINK

There was a Franken-O'Reilly smackdown at a booksellers luncheon in Los Angeles on Saturday. LINK

The New York Daily News' Rush and Molloy cite Arnold Schwarzenegger's back page Vanity Fair questionnaire, complete with humorous references to running for governor. LINK

The AP's Jeffrey McMurray reported on Sunday, "Owners of a small Georgia barbecue chain say they were just trying to help out two Republicans — Jeb Bush and Saxby Chambliss — by supplying thousands of dollars in food and catering services for separate campaign events last year." LINK

"But Democratic foes and a watchdog group are questioning the legality of the donations to the Florida governor and the Georgia congressman elected to the Senate in 2002. A search of federal and state financial reports did not turn up any record of the contributions, and the amounts in question would far exceed donor limits."

The New York Times ' Jennifer Steinhauer checks into the Mayor Bloomberg mystique, and how his reputation as an enigmatic non-politician who appeals only to certain voters (white, homeowning), may have been altered by his handling of recent events. LINK

The Skyler paragraph is to die for.

We wondered how long it would take until the Washington Times began to talk about the candidacy of Herman Cain, although we thought it'd be a Steve Miller byline instead of a Z. Hallow byline.

"The kind of black candidate that many conservatives dream of has entered the Republican primary for Georgia's Senate seat in 2004." LINK

"Herman Cain is a pro-life Reaganite and the chairman of Godfather's Pizza chain. He took over management of the once-troubled company, making it a success and finally buying it for $50 million from Pillsbury in 1988."

In Sunday's edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, Carla Marinnuci and Robert Sallady wrote, "Even as Gov. Gray Davis tries to negotiate a historic budget deal with Republicans, several GOP lawmakers are actively supporting an organized recall campaign that would remove him from office." LINK

The duo also report that the "recall effort has put [Senator Dianne] Feinstein in an awkward position. Political insiders are already speculating that the senator could be easily elected to replace Davis — and appoint her own successor to the U.S. Senate."

"To plot strategy against the recall, the tight-knit team that guided Davis to victory in the gubernatorial elections of 1998 and 2002 has reassembled informally over the last several weeks, mainly on conference calls," the Los Angeles Times' Finnegan reports. LINK

Coincidentally, and only for insiders, Note that Prop. 13's 25th anniversary is Friday. LINK

The Washington Post 's sassy Mark Leibovich reads through West Virginia Governor Bob Wise's (government-account) emails to Angela Mascia-Frye, and offers a sampling of the revealing exchanges ("'Right now, I am holed up in my office eating deer jerky and drinking Diet Pepsi while having the Daytona 500 NASCAR race on in the background'"). LINK

The Washington Post 's David Von Drehle recently told The Note he was too busy on something to colloquy with us on a political matter; maybe the 6,500 words on golf in yesterday's Magazine had something to do with that … . LINK

The Sunday Los Angeles Times looked at the parties' effort to get the FEC to bless soft money for Boston and New York. LINK

Lindsey Graham doesn't like Sidney Blumenthal, and is as country as they come, and those things might be connected. LINK

Grover Norquist, whose quotes are so frequent these days he could spend 1/2 his time giving them and half his time clarifying them (but is normally too busy for the latter), actually called Al Kamen to clarify the "partisan" and "date rape" quotes that bounced around last week. LINK

Kamen also has the saga of Mark Corallo's trip to Baghdad that is totally worth reading.

And Grover also has a Wall Street Journal correction! ("A Washington Wire item on Friday incorrectly stated that conservative activist Grover Norquist was critical of New York Republican Gov. George Pataki, who has opposed new tax increases. Mr. Norquist's criticism of New York was aimed at state legislators who have supported raising taxes.")

The Note's tuxedo is fresh from the dry cleaners for Wednesday's Radio & Television Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton and Towers.

Courtesy of ABCNEWS' Ed O'Keefe, here's a preview of the hootenanny:

"Annie Tin, C-SPAN's former chairwoman of the Radio-Television Galleries Executive Committee, organized the extravaganza originally scheduled for Thursday, March 20."

"The event begins at 8:00 pm with cocktails beforehand. Of course, there will be the pre and post parties including CBS, ABC before while FOX & CNN will party both before and after." Nobody parties like those cablers.

"The Vice President's office has accepted his invitation but the G-8 and beyond will likely keep the president away. The comedian/entertainment remains Henry (no, not Margaret) Cho." LINK

Cho is a stand-up comedian who is also a former host of NBC's Friday Night Videos. He has appeared in a number of sitcoms as well as the classic film Revenge of the Nerds II: The Next Generation. (He was the Elvis impersonator.)

O'Keefe continues with the most important details:

"Ah, and the menu:"

"Salad: Spinach with spicy dressing and pecans with a corn fritter."

"Entree: Petit filet served on sweet potato stuffed with custard, Sesame salmon, Mushrooms, asparagus and peppers."

"Dessert: Chocolate cream pie."

"Hotel house wine is Copperidge Italian cabernet and a chardonnay. $28/bottle and available at each table."

Smell the greasepaint? Hear the roar? In this week leading up to Broadway's biggest night, ABCNEWS Political Director Mark Halperin talks with the head of the American League of Theaters and Producers, Jed Bernstein, about the quintessential New York experience — live, Gotham City theater.

Mr. Bernstein offers his take on why movies are being made into musicals and why Antonio Banderas is willing to trade in his big trailer for a cramped dressing room on The Great White Way.

He also goes step-by-step through how you too can enjoy the New York City renaisssance and see some shows this summer.

To listen to this all-new episode of ABCNEWS' Here's The Point, click here now : LINK

Legislative agenda:

Calling Nancy Pelosi a "tougher, more decisive figure than many had predicted," the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers previews the summer congressional agenda through the prism of House Democratic attempts to contrast the Bush tax cuts with spending "priorities" ("veterans' benefits, public schools, homeland security, and health care.").

David Broder called for universal coverage (or something darn close to it) in his Sunday column. LINK

Bush judicial nominees:

Judge Gonzales has another op-ed — today's is in the Washington Post — calling for an end to the Estrada filibuster. LINK

Bush Administration strategy/personality:

David Broder had to run a Karl Rove correction. LINK