The Note: A Deal to End the Madness


Due to the President's Day holiday, The Note will not be published today. We'll be back on Tuesday Feb. 21, filled to bursting with cherry pie. In the meantime, please see the most recent edition of The Note below or check out our Archives and catch up on any installments of The Note you may have missed. LINK


ABC News' Karen Travers reports that Vice President Cheney's speech will offer reflections on his experiences in Wyoming politics and national office, as well as on some of the political leaders who have influenced him along the way.

Cheney (pronounced back home correctly as "Chee-knee") delivers 1:00 pm ET remarks at the 2006 Wyoming legislature budget session in Cheyenne, WY. There is open press coverage of both his arrival and departure at the Cheyenne Regional Airport. Cheney will stay at his home in Jackson Wyoming this weekend and has no other public events.

But ABC News has learned that immediately after the conclusion of the Vice President's speech, the text of a five-party agreement will be released simultaneously in Cheyenne, Washington, and Sacramento.

The deal, painstakingly hammered out over a specially constructed pentagon-shaped table secretly moved to the top floor of Lauriol Plaza last night, was the product of overnight, chips-and-salsa-fueled talks that ended at dawn this morning.

The negotiations nearly broke down on at least two occasions, ABC News has learned, with one representative (whose identity could not be learned) stalking out at around 2 am, saying, "I'm going to Stetson's for awhile."

Here for the first time are the terms of the agreement -- signed by representatives of Vice President Cheney, President Bush, the White House Correspondents Association, the Old Media, and the Democratic Party (bloggers, late-night comics, and cable news yakkers were originally part of the talks, but did not sign on to the final agreement).

The deal is already being referred to by knowing wags as "The Treaty of 18th and Swann":

We, the undersigned, agree to all of the following regarding the shooting of Harry Whittington by Vice President Dick Cheney:

On Behalf of the Vice President:

-- He agrees that in matters of controversy in the future, he will have a formal, well-informed government spokesperson speak on his behalf, not a private citizen.

-- He agrees that he should not have stayed silent while at least two people speaking on his behalf suggested Mr. Whittington was at fault for the accident.

-- He acknowledges that the "Corpus Christi Caller-Times v. New York Times" framing is a completely phony issue that has nothing to do with why reporters are upset, but he still thinks the media was annoyed about having to work on a Sunday.

On Behalf of the President:

-- He will continue to be pleased that the media conflates "taking responsibility" with "apologizing," and that the press refers to his "rub-downs" as opposed to "massages."

-- He does not rule out a U.S. Marshall slot for Gilberto San Miguel Jr., but nor does he guarantee one. He is keeping his options open.

-- He promises not to throw Scott McClellan to the wolves in avoidable situations. That is, if the President needs to say something, he'll say it instead of letting Scott take a pointless beating for three days, since it's not going to change what he himself will say anyway.

On Behalf of the White House Correspondents Association:

-- They promise to remember at all times (that is, "most of the time") that Vice President is a human being with feelings, who is quite upset about what happened.

-- They promise to consider going back to covering the President's agenda next week (although they might do it exclusively through the prism of the midterms elections).

-- They promise to have a pooler available to the Vice President's office at a moment's notice. -- They promise not to whine if the Vice President doesn't want to talk to them even though they are paying through the nose to be on his plane.

-- They promise to give the Corpus Christi Caller-Times an honorary spot in the rotation. -- They promise to consult the sage Ed Chen, headed for greener pastures, as a neutral party when anomalies arise in arrangements.

On Behalf of the Old Media:

-- They agree to investigate only questions that actually matter; have some public dimension; and are not the product of madness. That leaves asking the Vice President to be more clear about how much he drank on Saturday; to explain how much his drinking might have impaired him; to certify that he had nothing to do with the decision to be interviewed on Sunday instead of Saturday; and the whole clockwise/counter-clockwise issue.

-- We also request clarification on a few other things:

A. The Deputy Sheriff's report clearly documents a request to record the interview with Harry Whittington which Mr. Whittington denied due to his raspy voice. Was the Vice President asked to allow his Sunday morning conversation with the Deputy Sheriff to be recorded? If so, what was his response? And why is none of that covered in the incident report?

B. The incident report indicates that written affidavits have been requested from all the participants EXCEPT Vice President Cheney. Has Vice President Cheney been asked to submit a written affidavit? If not, why not? If so, why is that not covered in the incident report?

-- They agree to not ask or pursue silly questions, such as Dick Polman of Knight Ridder raises today. ("But who exactly informed White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card about the shotting, without telling Card who the shooter was? Did Card not ask who it was?... But did Rove or anyone else at the White House, suggest that speedy disclosure might be preferred?") Whether the shooter and the victim were 30 feet apart or 30 yards apart is not something they will pursue.

-- They will evaluate the work of their colleagues at the Fox News Channel on the merits of the content, and not based on pre-judgments or their own biases.

-- They will prove that they understand the spiritual nature of the American people by thanking the Lord every night before they go to sleep for the fact that the Whittington family has not posted on the Internet the notes their bookers have sent them, seeking exclusive interviews.

-- They appreciate Mary Matalin's permission to keep the story alive through Sunday show banter, and they agree to drop it after that, unless

A. Mr. Whittington takes a turn for the worse; or,

B. The newsweeklies break some boffo new angle.

On Behalf of the Democratic Party:

-- They promise to avoid channeling Begala and Carville on this one (unless they get back some polling data next week suggesting the boys are on to something).

-- They reserve the right to make an issue of the Vice President's failure to use an American-made gun.

-- Although he has added "At least he never shot anyone while in office" to his list of accomplishments, they promise to do everything in their power to keep Al Gore from giving a speech about Vice Presidential gun control (unless Fenton Communications suggests it).

-- They realize that the more we whine, the more secure Vice President Cheney is.


Meanwhile, the Vice President's friend (a/k/a "the President") heads to Florida today. He participates in a briefing by CENTCOM and SOCOM commanders in Tampa, FL at 12:15 pm ET and delivers remarks on the "Global War on Terror" from there at 1:20 pm ET. Later in the day, the President makes remarks at a Republican Party of Florida dinner in Lake Buena Vista, FL at 5:35 pm ET.

Per the Orlando Sentinel, President Bush is expected to collect about $3 million at a $500-a-plate dinner at Disney's Contemporary Resort in Florida. LINK

The Senate convenes at 10:00 am ET. Sen. Salazar (D-CO) delivers Washington's Farewell Address, and the Senate will take up other legislative items that need to pass prior to next week's President's Day recess.

First Lady Laura Bush participates in a visit at Washington D.C.'s "National Women's Heart Day Health Fair" at the MCI Center at 10:45 am ET.

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC), conducts an "oversight hearing" at 10:00 am ET on the impact international trade agreements are having on the U.S. automobile industry and its workers.

The grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA operative's name was scheduled to meet at 9:30 am ET.

DNI Negroponte delivers a speech on intelligence reform at Georgetown University at 11:30 am ET.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace addresses the National Press Club at 12:30 pm ET.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sits down today for an interview with Charlie Rose to be aired tonight. LINK

Rumsfeld also addresses the Council on Foreign Relations in New York at 1:00 pm ET.

Sens. Clinton (D-NY) and Schumer (D-NY) and Reps. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) meet with Air Force Chief of Staff General T. Michael Moseley at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station in Niagara Falls, NY.

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman is still in Hawaii and attends a Hawaiian Republican Party breakfast -- representatives from many Asian American and Pacific Islander communities will be in attendance. He then heads to Las Vegas, NV and on Saturday has a "Conversations with the Community" luncheon with Caucus of African American Nevadans, a Nevada Republican Party roundtable fundraiser, and a Clark County Lincoln Day Dinner.

The RNC announced its January fundraising numbers. The committee raised $13.7 million in January and has $38.8 million cash on hand.

President Clinton is on a trip to India and Australia on behalf of his foundation's HIV/AIDS initiative.

Gov. Pataki (R-NY) will be recuperating at home this weekend in New York.

Gov. Romney (R-MA) and others brief community leaders and local elected officials on tungsten levels at the Massachusetts Military Reservation in Sandwich, MA at 9:30 am ET. Tonight, he attends a small private dinner in Spartanburg, SC. Tomorrow, Gov. Romney addresses the Greenville County Republican Party in Greenville, SC.

Sen. Allen (R-VA) travels to Las Vegas, NV today. He is attending the NRSC Senatorial Trust Winter Meeting there through Sunday.

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) heads to Florida on Sunday for some fundraising. He'll be there through Monday evening when he heads to Los Angeles, CA for some more fundraising. Sen. Bayh plans on remaining in the Los Angeles, CA area through Friday.

After a week in Los Angeles and San Diego, CA, Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) will take some time off this weekend with his family.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) is scheduled to be on the season premiere of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" at 11:00 pm ET.

Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) continues his UNITE HERE tour in Chicago, IL and Boston, MA this weekend.

New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid, the Democratic candidate running in the competitive House race against Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) in the Albuquerque area will deliver the Democratic radio address this weekend, launching a week of a series of events where Democrats will pound the Bush Administration for its handling of the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

U.S. Senate candidate Harris Miller (D-VA) appears on WTOP's "The Politics Program with Mark Plotkin" at 10 am ET. He will be discussing the campaign and taking questions from callers.

Due to his appendectomy yesterday, Gov. Pataki cancelled his plans to travel to New Hampshire today. However, C-SPAN still plans on showing his early February remarks in Sioux City, IA on "Road to the White House" on Sunday at 6:30 pm and 9:30 pm ET. Taking the slot originally slated for Pataki's New Hampshire remarks: C-SPAN will show Sen. Evan Bayh's (D-IN) events from his trip last weekend to Cedar Rapids, IA.

Don't miss "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday when DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), and Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) will be his guests discussing the recently released report on the federal response to Hurricane Katrina and much more.

On Monday February 20, UVA's Center for Politics, in association with the White House Project, will be hosting a panel discussion entitled "Women and the Presidency: 8 for '08." The panel, featuring former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers, plans to discuss "the challenges facing women as presidential candidates and America's willingness to elect a female president in 2008 and beyond." LINK

The eight women that the White House Project forwards as viable 2008 candidates are: Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Mayor Shirley Franklin (D-Atlanta), Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ), Condoleezza Rice, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS), and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

VPOTUS: local tick-tock

Cheney is cleared in the accidental shooting of Harry Whittington and no charges will be filed, per Dave Michaels of the Dallas Morning News. LINK

"'Everything is done,' Sheriff Salinas said. 'No charges will be filed on anybody. And that's it.'"

The Washington Post's John Pomfret on NOD: LINK

According to the Houston Chronicle's James Pinkerton, the sheriff's report says that Cheney turned counterclockwise before shooting, contradicting Cheney's televised account in which he says he turned to his right. LINK

Asher Price of the Austin American-Statesman picks up on the discrepancy as well and Notes that the incident report offers a window into a "rare scene" in which the "often shrouded and closely guarded" vice president found himself interrogated by a law enforcement official. LINK

"But the language of San Miguel's report, much of it in the passive voice and much of it dedicated to the physical ceremony of actually penetrating the ranch and Secret Service to reach Cheney, suggests the power relationship at play between a deputy from a rural Texas county and the vice president of the United States."

"The deputy wrote that he was contacted by the sheriff and told to report to the Armstrong Ranch the following morning; the sheriff told him 'I would receive more information when I got there.'"

"Sunday morning, he wrote, 'I was instructed to park my vehicle so it could be inspected before I could proceed to the main house. While my vehicle was getting inspected, a Secret Service agent approached me, and he advised me he would be riding with me to the main house.'"

"'I was instructed to park my vehicle by the cattle guard' and then 'was turned over to another agent.'"

"It was only then that he met with the vice president."

"'Mr. Cheney shook my hand and told me he was there to cooperate in any way with the interview. As I got comfortable at a table inside the main house, I asked Mr. Cheney if he could explain to me what had happened the day of the incident.'"

Our favorite sentence in the whole report is this one: "At the time, I told Mr. Cheney I didn't need any more information at this time, but how could I reach him."

Newsday corrects the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife report from earlier this week. The report indicated Mr. Whittington was shot on the left side of his face when, in fact, he was shot on the right side. LINK

Lydia Saldana, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, tells Newsday: "That's a human error. . . He should have colored the other side. It was the right side of the face and neck."

Jaime Powell of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times has an interview with Katharine Armstrong's boyfriend, Ben Love, who was with Mrs. Whittington at the time her husband was shot. LINK

VPOTUS: POTUS reaction:

The New York Times' Bumiller and Blumenthal write up the President's Oval Office remarks as "an effort to tamp down widespread talk about tensions between him and Mr. Cheney." LINK

Also be sure to Note the J. Robinson West interview as well as the greater concern the Secret Service allegedly has about President Bush's chainsaw activities on his ranch than it does for Mr. Cheney's hunting trips.

"Bush gave no indication that he disagreed with Cheney's decision to wait until Sunday to inform the public, but he did not directly answer a reporter's question about whether he agreed with the timing of the disclosure," writes Rick Klein of the Boston Globe. LINK

Under the headline, "Veep's new can of worms," Ken Bazinet of the New York Daily News writes up Cheney's declassification authority he described to Brit Hume on Wednesday. LINK

VPOTUS: analysis:

Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe does the 'shooting as metaphor for secrecy' thing with lots of open government advocates quoted throughout. Jennifer Mayfield of the Vice President's office is on the record disagreeing with the premise. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Calmes and Hitt assess Vice President Dick Cheney's worth to the Administration following last weekend's shooting incident and recent controversies over foreign policy, intelligence, and the Libby indictment.

VPOTUS: morning shows:

On ABC News' "Good Morning America," George Stephanopoulos dismissed Peggy Noonan-stoked speculation that President Bush will replace Vice President Cheney before 2008, calling the idea "simply silliness."

Politics of domestic surveillance:

Yesterday was a big day on the domestic surveillance front.

ABC News' Zach Wolf wraps the day's major developments:

1. There will be no investigation of the program by the Senate Intelligence committee -- they will reassess the situation on March 7. An investigation seemed imminent last week. Going into the hearing, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), the chair of the Senate's intelligence panel, said he had just come from a meeting at the White House and they had all agreed to fix the program. No specifics, but Roberts people say the agreement is based on two principles: an expanded role for the Congress and some sort of "legislative fix."

2. The Justice Department told the office of Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter via letters late Wednesday night that they will not allow former Attorney General John Ashcroft or James Comey to testify before the committee on the wiretapping issue. If they won't let an advocate of the program like Ashcroft testify, stands to reason they won't let former Deputy Attorney General James Comey (who has expressed real reservations about the program) testify. Assistant Attorney General William Moschella said in the letters that neither Comey nor Ashcroft "will be in any position to provide new information to the committee." Note: The Senate Judiciary Committee will be having another hearing on the surveillance issue on Feb. 28 (but with six academics, not with policymakers).

3. A federal judge issued an order forcing the Justice Department to release documents related to the NSA program in response to a lawsuit from the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the ACLU. The order gives Justice 20 days as part of the lawsuit, but the Justice Department will probably plead irreparable harm to national security (or something similar) to block the order.

Per the Washington Post's Walter Pincus, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Roberts said that he may add language to the fiscal 2007 intelligence authorization bill to criminalize the leaking of a wider range of classified information than is now covered by law. LINK

The New York Times ledes the paper with the House Intelligence Committee's agreement to open an inquiry into the President's domestic warrantless wiretapping program and Notes the differing views of the scope of that inquiry by Chairman Hoekstra and Rep. Heather Wilson. LINK

"He indicated the new measure would be similar to legislation vetoed by President Bill Clinton more than five years ago."

Squeo and Rogers of the Wall Street Journal report that the White House is in negations with GOP members of the Senate Intelligence Committee over a plan to increase congressional oversight of NSA wiretapping, "while possibly excluding it from the federal law that many say should apply."

In the Washington Post's story on the Senate rejecting the wiretapping probe, Charles Babbington and Carol D. Leonnig Note that in December, two Republicans on the committee -- Olympia Snowe of Maine and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska -- "called for a congressional investigation of the NSA program. Yesterday, they supported the move that adjourned the meeting without voting on Rockefeller's motion."LINK

Sen. Specter told a Wolf Blitzer-moderated forum at Georgetown's law school on Thursday night, "You cannot have domestic search and seizure without a warrant," the AP reports. LINK

When filibustering against the Patriot Act, Sen. Feingold rememebered that Sen. Specter had called the recent changes to the act "cosmetic," writes Charles Hurt of the Washington Times. LINK


Karl Rove politely assailed Democrats on their opposition to wiretaps, war in Iraq, and judicial nominations at a Lincoln Day dinner at the University of Central Arkansas last night, reports Debra Hale-Shelton of the Democrat-Gazette. Rove took time to meet with Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) and GOP gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson earlier in the day. LINK

On March 1, Rove will headline a private lunch for Minnesota Senate candidate Mark Kennedy at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC, "at a cost of $2,000 per PAC and $1,000 per individual," the AP reports. LINK

Per Michael Finnegan of the LA Times, California Treasurer Phil Angelides added a "key plank" to his gubernatorial platform yesterday, announcing plans to cut, "California's oil consumption by 25% over 10 years with a plan that would require all new vehicles sold in the state to be able to run on a mix of gasoline and alternative fuels." LINK

The New York Post's Fred Dicker reports Tom Suozzi is moving from the exploratory phase to formally announcing his intentions to challenge Eliot Spitzer in a Democratic primary. Dicker reports the announcement is set for February 25. LINK

Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO) said Thursday he will not seek re-election in 2006," the Rocky Mountain News reports. LINK

"The long-awaited retirement decision by Hefley, 70, sets up a succession scramble in Hefley's Colorado Springs congressional district, considered the most conservative Republican bastion in the state."

A certain Trix-eating DCCC spokesgal tells The Note that "Wefley saw the silly Wabbit's Writing on the Wall."

Note to Rahm: you still need some retirements in winnable districts!!!!

In a story looking at the whisper campaigns that allegedly took Paul Hackett out of the Ohio Senate race, Mother Jones' David Goodman reports that Hackett got a call from Sen. Reid in November saying: "I hear there's a photo of you mistreating bodies in Iraq. Is it true?" LINK

"No sir," replied Hackett. Hackett later showed Reid's staff a photo of another Marine unloading a sealed body bag from a truck.

The Abramoff affair:

Thirty-one Senate Democrats sent a letter on Thursday calling on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to recuse himself from the Abramoff case.

ABC News' Liz Marlantes reports that Democrats have been slowly but deliberately ramping up this line of attack, calling a few weeks ago for a special counsel, now calling for Gonzales to recuse himself.

In an effort to frame the Abramoff scandal in a bipartisan light and to rebut Democratic calls for Gonzales' recusal, the RNC issued a release pointing out that 28 of the 31 Democratic Senators who are calling for Gonzales' recusal have received contributions from "Abramoff-affiliated lobbying firms and Indian tribes."

"Considering 28 of the 31 Democrats have received Abramoff affiliated funds themselves, it appears their hypocrisy has exceeded even their partisanship," said RNC spokesgal Tracey Schmitt. "What Harry Reid and the Abramoff Democrats lack in judgment, they make up for in sheer audacity."

(Lest you fall into a trap similar to the one that ensnared Katie Couric recently when she was interviewing DNC Chairman Howard Dean, Note the distinction between Abramoff and "Abramoff-affiliated." Abramoff himself has only given money to Republicans).

The Washington Times: LINK


One day after the Nation's Newspaper reported allegations that a Spefter legislative assistant inserted 13 provisions into spending bills benefiting clinets of her lobbyist husband, Sen. Specter has asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the $50 million matter, USA Today's Matt Kelley reports. LINK

The Washington Post's Birnbaum on the same. LINK

The New York Times on the same: LINK

Politics of national security:

The New York Times' Shane writes up Rep. Christopher Shays' (R-CT) efforts to achieve bipartisan whistleblower protection. LINK

Lobbying reform:

The Chicago Tribune's Jeff Zeleny wisely staked out the bipartisan meeting among Senators on lobbying reform proposals and found the group on the road to reaching a bipartisan accord. Sens. McCain and Lieberman sound hopeful and Sen. Obama departed the meeting with a smile on his face, reports Zeleny. LINK

Washington Times' Charles Hurt cites a Center for Responsive Politics study that shows Democrats have received more money from lobbyists than Republicans over the last 16 years. LINK

"'Republicans can point to the past, but they can't justify the present,' said Rebecca Kirszner, spokesgal for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. 'It is a simple fact -- lobbying is booming under Bush. Since George Bush came to town, the number of lobbyists has doubled in Washington.'"


The eagle-eyed Susan Milligan of the Boston Globe writes up how one of Rep. DeLay's pet projects for his district did not appear in the President's budget submitted to Congress just a month after DeLay announced he would step down permanently as Majority Leader. LINK


For the Washington Times, Barry Casselman states the obvious, misspells the name of Virginia's junior Senator, and coins a new term, "Minnewisowa," in his 2008 forecast. LINK

2008: Democrats:

The Orlando Sentinel appears to have mistaken former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner for Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor.

"She won't be the only one. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Iowa Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack and Virginia Democratic Mark Pryor are among the presidential aspirants who have visited Central Florida recently." LINK

(But maybe this will provide the opening for Pryor to hit the hustings and strut his Gang of 14 stuff!)

"From a spaceport to a dinosaur skeleton, the Legislature and Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) handed out money for just about everything. Lots of money," writes Barry Massey of the AP on the two new bills sent by the New Mexico legislature to the governor. LINK

2008: Republicans:

The Omaha World Herald has Sen. Hagel saying: "If he'd been in the military, he would have learned gun safety." LINK

Hagel also said yesterday that he thinks the US should be talking to Iran.

"'I think one thing we ought to be doing is engaging the Iranians. Why aren't we talking to them? That's the essence of good foreign policy,' he said. 'We must find a way to establish some relationship based on common interests.'"

Mrs. Pataki tells the New York Times that her husband is doing "absolutely great" after his appendectomy. LINK

The Times also has this great detail: "During the surgery, while Mr. Pataki was under anesthesia, Lt. Gov. Mary O. Donohue was technically in charge of the state from about 5:45 to 7 a.m."

"Ms. Donohue, who was awake for most of her time at the helm, spent her brief administration at her home in Rensselaer County, near Albany, said Kevin Quinn, a spokesman for the governor."

Gov. Huckabee (R-AK), notorious for his dramatic weight loss, LINK, touts the issue of "healthy restaurants" around the state, recognizing among his top 106 picks McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Burger King, reports the AP. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

The Wall Street Journal's David Rogers lays out the considerable costs of US foreign conflicts and hurricane relief.

"Together with prior funding, the combined costs of Hurricane Katrina and military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will approach $500 billion by the end of the 2006 fiscal year, Sept. 30."

Rep. Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) argument that a clerical error had turned into a constitutional crisis fell on deaf ears among House Republican leaders, reports the New York Times. LINK

"House members voted 219 to 187 along strict party lines to block a request by Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, for an ethics investigation into how the House and Senate ended up approving slightly different versions of legislation signed by President Bush on Feb. 8."

New Hampshire:

In an effort to protect the state's "first in the nation" status, the New Hampshire House passed a bill yesterday that allows the Secretary of State to change the filing dates for Presidential primary whenever he feels it necessary, reports Tom Fahey of the Union Leader. LINK

The bill will "will make it very clear to the national parties, but more importantly to other states that we are ready to do what we need to do," said State Rep. James Splaine (D-NH). "This will make sure all political parties in all the 49 other states get the message that we are living up to our first-in-the-nation tradition in 2008, 2012 and beyond."

Politics of Iraq:

This New York Times story of a company executive fraudently charging more than $1 million for "war risk surcharges" will likely find its way into Democratic talking points on mismanagement of the war. LINK

The Washington Times' Rowan Scarborough on Rumsfeld's first faceoff with Rep. Jack Murtha since Murtha's call for the swift redeployment of troops. LINK

House of Labor:

The New York Times' Greenhouse and Barbaro reveal a rare look inside at an interaction between Wal-Mart's chief executive and his employees. LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

Mark Martin of the San Francisco Chronicle Notes that not everybody is ready to take Gov. Schwarzenegger's upcoming anti-global-warming plan for granted. LINK

Per Martin: "'So far, it's been policy by press release,' said V. John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies. 'The key is whether the governor will stand by these proposals and actually do them.'"

George W. Bush Presidential Library:

The New York Sun's Meghan Clyne delivers a must-read about an eminent domain stumbling block Southern Methodist University may encounter in its effort to win the competition to house President Bush's future presidential library. LINK

A lawsuit will first be heard on Tuesday in a Dallas courtroom claiming "the school has improperly seized local homes in order to secure land for the proposed library site," according to the New York Sun.

You will recall the uproar in some Republican quarters over the Supreme Court's eminent domain decision last year. Whether or not SMU's bid falls out of favor is still to be determined.