The Note: Gnip Gnop Nation

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21

Once upon a time (ok: it was nine days ago, on Sunday the 12th), the staff of The Note was gathered at Dupont Circle's retro-trendy Front Page for a meal. It was, of course, "Take a Googling Monkey to Brunch Day."

That day, and every day for just over half a fortnight, we each had one beer (followed, of course, by three mimosas) with our midday meal. This accounts for our fuzzy recollection of the events of last week, and for the fact that when we look at the covers of Time and Newsweek what surely are pictures of Olympic athletes look just like (we swear to this) pictures of Dick Cheney.

We spent all of President's Day drinking coffee, and here is what we need to remind you to focus on:

1. The Bush legislative agenda: bipartisan compassion on energy, education, jobs, and immigration, with Leader Boehner's leadership on the budget the main event.

2. House retirements: do Republican members in swingy districts quit or not? That's all that matters to November.

3. The Abramoff and Fitzgerald investigations: what lurks in the hearts (and minds) of the prosecutors?

4. Iraq/Iran/NSA/etc.: are we near a Hagelian tipping point on GOP challenges to the Administration?

5. Facts on the ground in Iraq: 'nuff said.

6. Democratic message: not 'nuff said.

7. The Medicare drug benefit: "benefits whom?" on Election Day.

8. Don't be stupid: Will voters feel the Republicans are the good stewards of a good economy?

Well aware of the list above, President Bush keeps up his focus on energy independence with a tour of the National Renewable Energy Lab at 10:55 am ET followed by remarks on energy policy at 11:30 am ET. (Nearly three dozen employees at the lab are possibly referring to this as their personal presidential jobs tour.)

The Supreme Court meets for decisions and arguments at 10:00 am ET. All eyes will be on Justice Alito and Chief Justice Roberts as they hear 80 minutes of extended arguments in their first environmental cases for the High Court.

Before oral arguments are heard in Rapanos v. United States and Carabell v. US Army Corps of Engineers, the Court may announce whether it has agreed to act on some pending cases, including Padilla and partial-birth abortion, ABC News' Ariane DeVogue reports.

With respect to Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the government is asking the Court to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. (At present, the Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the case of Bin Laden's former driver next month.) Roberts will be recused from any participation in the Hamdan case because he ruled on it while sitting on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

Justice Scalia delivers remarks to the American Enterprise Institute on the outsourcing of American law at 3:00 pm ET.

The Energy Information Administration releases its survey of retail gas prices at 4:30 pm ET.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, hold a press availability at 1:30 pm ET.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) attends a fundraiser for her reelection campaign at "Crobar" in New York City this evening.

Sen. George Allen (R-VA) speaks at the Jefferson County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner and attends a fundraiser for his 2006 re-election campaign in Jefferson County, CO.

The Senate is in recess and is expected to reconvene at 2:00 pm ET on Monday, Feb. 27.

The House will reconvene next Tuesday.

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