The Note: Credit Where Credit Is Due

The Washington Post's Barnes moves beyond George Bush and Mark Warner and looks at the candidates on the ballot in his post-election analysis of the Virginia gubernatorial contest. LINK

Abramoff:

The New York Times reports Jack Abramoff asked the President of Gabon for $9 million in 2003 in exchange for arranging a meeting with President Bush. But Administration officials say the eventual meeting between the two leaders, on May 26, 2004, was "routine" and unrelated to the fees paid to Abramoff's Maryland company GrassRoots Interactive. LINK

The Washington Post prints Abramoff's letter to Gabonese President Omar Bongo. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

To save its package of $50 billion in spending cuts, House Republicans late last night had to drop a provision for drilling in ANWR, a move that will speed the bill's passage in the House but may meet objections in the Senate. LINK

Dropping ANWR drilling from the House budget bill is painted as a Bush Administration defeat in the Washington Post. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins writes, "Businesses are lobbying to strip language from a Senate tax bill that would bar deductions for punitive damages and parts of government settlements."

"Corporations also have lined up against a provision that seeks to close $5.2 billion in tax shelters over five years."

"Congressional Republicans and President George W. Bush are divided over whether and how to make an overhaul of the tax code the centerpiece of their agenda in 2006," writes Bloomberg's Donmoyer. LINK

Politics of national security

USA Today previews the fight shaping between President Bush and prominent veterans in Congress over the treatment of detainees. Says McCain of his amendment, banning inhumane treatment of prisoners, "We will win sooner or later. I will not quit." LINK

Jonathan Weisman of the Washington Post reports Sen. Roberts has asked Majority Leader Frist to tamp down his urging for an immediate Senate review of the leak to the Washington Post about the CIA secret prisons. Sen. Roberts would like to wait until the Justice Department completes its review. LINK

The Washington Post's Pincus reports on the bipartisan agreement on how to move forward with the Intelligence Committee's work on Phase II of the investigation into pre-war intelligence. LINK

In his look at the Democratic strategy to expose or create friction between Bush and Cheney, Bush and Rove, the White House and Congress, and between competing GOPers on the Hill, Newsweek's Howard Fineman has this from Reid's spokesman -- the always agile Jim Manley: "'The focus is on Cheney,' Manley said happily, 'and you can quote me on that!' Cheny and Halliburton, Cheney and torture policy, Cheney and the CIA leak, Cheney and pre-war intelligence, Cheney and global warming. . ."

Speaking of Reid, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman told reporters on Wednesday that Reid suffered from a "Lyndon LaRouche moment" on Tuesday.

Manley responded to Mehlman's broadside with a barb of his own, telling The Note: "What do you expect from a hack who only knows how to distort, divide and deny?"

Back to you, Mr. Chairman.

Roll Call's Paul Kane has an angry Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) saying the Vice President should no longer be allowed to discuss sensitive topics at weekly party luncheons.

Samuel Alito for Associate Justice:

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