The Note: On the Right Side of the Lord

WASHINGTON, Jan. 4

NEWS SUMMARY

Anyone can read the Abramoff indictment, call Fred Wertheimer for a cheap quote, look through the windows of Signatures for metaphors, throw around the word "superlobbyist," and slap together a story about What Happened and What It All Means.

As the superthinker Rich Galen told the Associated Press, ""You don't have to be a political genius to sniff the smell of blood in the water."

But the 20th century one-word assuredness of "plastics" has given way to the 21st century two-word query "what's next?," and so we asked our Googling monkeys to sift through all the data and tell us what they believe the forward looking questions are.

What they came up with:

1. As Butch and Sundance would ask: who are these FBI agents and prosecutors with the temerity to investigate (mostly) Republican corruption in this era of single-party rule?

2. What is the range of rhetoric and policy proposals the White House is now considering on ethics for inclusion in the State of the Union?

3. Who are the swing votes in the House Conference in determining if DeLay survives as Leader?

4. Who are the members of the Republican congressional leadership who think lobbying reform legislation should be enacted because it is the right thing for America, and who are the ones who are interested in pursuing it because they are trying to solve a political problem?

5. How naïve does a Googling monkey have to be to ask the previous question?

6. Will all this help or hurt John McCain's chances of being president?

7. Who will ink the first real book deal?

8. How many members of the House Conference have read this New Year's Eve Washington Post story about the murky international funding of a DeLay charity, seemingly courtesy of Abramoff? LINK

9. (When) will DeLay's reelection campaign donate to charity the roughly $15,000 it received from Abramoff between 1995 and 2003? (tick tock)

10. What are the implications of Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher's definition of "excessive"? (At the presser, she said Abramoff gave "excessive meals and entertainment" to public officials.)

11. Will history record that yesterday was worse for Chairman Ney or Mr. DeLay?

12. Will New York Times management recognize how great Anne Kornblut is and act accordingly?

13. Did Abramoff get anything real for his clients?

14. Who will history record had a better day yesterday, Rep. Emanuel or Abbe Lowell?

15. Will Scott McClellan go still further later today, or pull back?

16. Will the President maintain his position that Mr. DeLay looks innocent until proven otherwise?

17. If Patrick Fitzgerald is jealous, what will he do about it?

18. How much would you wager, with even money, on the proposition that Ralph Reed will be the next lieutenant governor of Georgia?

19. How soon will Jeff Birnbaum write the story about Members of Congress lawyering up?

20. Who in the Bush Administration has the best handle on how much executive branch officials will be caught up in all this?

ABC News' White House troops report that Scott McClellan, at his off-camera gaggle this morning, responded to repeated questions by saying that the President does not recall ever meeting Abramoff, but that the lobbyist was invited to three Hannukah parties at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and that the men might have met there. The White House is checking to see who in the highest levels of the Administration had contact with Abramoff and will make that information public.

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