The Note: Pick Your Poisoned Apple


The Walt Disney Company and ABC News will announce later today its latest venture intended to give consumers more choice and control over what they see, read, and hear. Content may be king, but the consumer is bigger than Jesus, as they say in Burbank and Liverpool.

Beginning today, each day's Note will have eight different lede options. Readers can pick the one that fits their individual needs.

So select the one (or more) that matches up with your busy lifestyle. (Rob Nichols and Tucker Eskew will have time to read all eight.).

And beginning next week, The Note goes all-video, dropping the old-fashioned text mode for streaming full-motion pictures of Teddy Davis sitting at his desk, reading all eight versions aloud, straight to camera.

A new day, indeed, has dawned!!!!

So on to today's political news, and, again, you decide what "the" lede is. Each choice comes with a primary document and then the kind of sharp analysis you have come to expect from The Note:

1. The text of the Blackberry messages back and forth between two House Republicans as they listened to Karl Rove at this morning's Conference meeting on Capitol Hill, at which one leadership aide said Rove was facing Members "with increasingly hardened positions on the issue" of immigration. LINK

2. The White House's current whip count of House Republicans who might vote for comprehensive immigration reform. LINK

3. Josh Bolten's attaboy email to Tony Snow after yesterday's maiden voyage. LINK

4. Rick Berke's latest "here's how we should cover 2006" draft plan. LINK

5. Garry South's in-the-drawer TV ad scripts, ready to go if necessary. LINK

6. The verbatim of what Doug Schoen said about Eliot Spitzer on the 7:30 am New York-DC Delta Shuttle this morning. (Note to Spitzer: it was all very positive.) LINK

7. The text of the first two (failed) Note ledes proposed by the night-shift Googling monkeys. LINK

8. The working draft of next week's major energy policy speech by Sen. Hillary Clinton (exclusive details below). LINK

With most House Republicans somewhere between tepid and hostile to the President's "middle ground" on immigration, DCoS Rove was due on the Hill today at around 9:00 am ET.

The Senate takes up immigration at 9:15 am ET and the Senate Armed Services Committee holds a 4:00 pm ET hearing on using the National Guard in a support role along the US-Mexican border.

The first immigration amendment that the Senate will consider today is the Kyl-Cornyn amendment which specifies the specific crimes which will disqualify convicted immigrants from US citizenship. Other amendments to be considered will be Obama, Sessions, and Inhofe (English requirement).

Oscar Solis, the first Filipino-American bishop ordained in the United States, and other pro-immigration coalition members from Los Angeles, plan to deliver 100,000 postcards to the offices of Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist and Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid today.

Pro-immigration forces will be lobbying on Capitol Hill from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm ET. Immigrant rights supporters will assemble on the National Mall at 4:00 pm ET, hold a rally at 5:00 pm ET, and march from the rally site to the Capitol at 6:00 pm ET. Although the original permit request to the Park Service requested 100,000 attendees, Park Police say organizers have now scaled it back to approximately 25,000.

(If you want to understand how immigration will likely play out in the end, be sure to read Sarah Lueck's story in the Wall Street Journal, which leans heavily into lame duckery, far and away the most likely option. Bravo, The Lueckster.)

While immigration consumes the Hill, the President will be trying to get back to his tax cut message today. He signs the Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2005 at 1:45 pm ET. He attends a 7:05 pm ET RNC gala at the Daughters of the American Revolution's Constitution Hall, and he delivers 10:30 am ET remarks to the 2006 United States Winter Olympic and Paralympics teams on the South Lawn. The RNC expects a $17 million haul and 800 attendees at tonight's event.

Democrats will respond to the President's bill signing by holding a 2:15 pm ET press conference with Sen. Reid, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), and Senate hopeful Ben Cardin (D-MD). Democrats are expected to criticize the President for "eliminating tax deductions that help students pay for college in order to give massive handouts to big business and multi-millionaires."

On the politics of surveillance front, the full House and Senate Intelligence Committees will receive briefings on the NSA domestic warrantless wiretapping program today in advance of Gen. Hayden's confirmation hearings tomorrow. LINK

On the energy independence front, a slew of Senate Democrats -- including the man from Searchlight, NV -- will join John Podesta at 10:15 am ET in the Mansfield Room of the US Capitol for the unveiling legislation of the Clean EDGE Act, legislation aimed at reducing US dependence on foreign oil.

The five-point plan will include an "aggressive effort" to ensure that an increasing number of new vehicles sold in the US run on alternative fuels, "starting with 25 percent in 2010." Democrats will also propose that the federal fleet of vehicles reduce its petroleum consumption by 20 percent over the next five years and 40 percent by 2020. The legislative package is also expected to include rolling back subsidies and tax breaks for oil companies and making price gouging a federal crime.

"Noticeably absent from the package is any nod toward increasingly fuel-economy standards," reports the Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler. "Democrats are split on this issue, with lawmakers from auto-producing states opposing stronger mileage targets."

As part of its "Kick the Oil Habit" campaign, the Center for American Progress will show a short video that "connects the dot" on the "complicated matrix" of events and geopolitics that the oil industry has waged over America's energy future.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) will also be engaging the energy issue today. To demonstrate his support for the "Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act," Brownback joins Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), and others at 12:00 pm ET for a hybrid vehicle demonstration behind the Cannon House Office Building.

When Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA) called for the redeployment of all US troops from Iraq to the periphery as soon as "practicable" in the fall, he estimated that such a redeployment could be safely done in six months. Murtha's bombshell announcement took place on Nov. 17. To mark the passage of six months, he plans to hold a press conference in the House Radio and Television Gallery at 12:00 pm ET. Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will also be on Capitol Hill today. He testifies before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee at 10:00 am ET.

As for the full House, the lower chamber takes up the budget resolution at 10:00 am ET.

On the CIA leak investigation front, the grand jury meets at 1:00 pm ET. Consider yourself hopelessly ineligible for the Gang of 500 if you aren't up on the latest buzz and gossip.

The Washington press corps will get a look at the tanned, rested, and (some say) ready Gore at 6:30 pm ET when VIPs arrive at the National Geographic Society for the DC premiere of "An Inconvenient Truth," Gore's global warming film.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) signs the $2.85 billion housing bond component of his Strategic Growth Plan.

Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R-MA) will honor local EMS professionals who assisted in hurricane relief efforts at 2:00 pm ET on the front steps of the Massachusetts State House.

Former New England chairman of President Bush's re-election campaign, James Tobin, will be sentenced at 1:30 pm ET today for his role in jamming the phones of New Hampshire's Democratic Party during Election Day of 2002. LINK

ABC News/Washington Post poll:

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll offers warning signs for the governing party as it approaches the midterm elections, write Richard Morin and Dan Balz in the Washington Post. LINK

The news for Republicans is not good: As Rove suggested Monday at AEI, Iraq continues to be chiefly responsible for the sourness of the American public, leading to a wrong-track figure of 69 percent. The President's approval rating continues to drop, now down to a poll low of 33 percent. And on each of the 10 issues measured by the new poll, Democrats are favored.

Yet while only a third of the public wants the Republicans to maintain control of Congress, and a similar group says it will use the midterm elections to show disapproval of the President, Morin and Balz Note that Democrats have two reason to be cautious: The public is upset with incumbents in general, which could cut across both parties, and most of the support for the Democrats is driven "primarily by dissatisfaction with Republicans rather than by positive impressions of their own party." Still, Morin and Balz write that the survey suggests that "pessimism about the direction of the country… and disaffection with Republicans have dramatically improved Democrats' chances to make gains in November."

The Washington Post has the poll's full results: LINK

Politics of immigration:

In her must-read, the Wall Street Journal's Sarah Lueck writes: "As a practical matter, there is little hope of any deal between the chambers before November's congressional election. 'It's reality,' said one leadership aide. 'We passed the immigration bill that e could pass in the House. We'd like to do more, but we can't without Democratic support and that can't happen before November."

Lueck smartly Notes that the post-election "lame-duck" session of Congress "could be the best moment fort he White House to try to strike a deal."

"White House officials said they expected to work for months to build public support and win the votes on Capitol Hill to get a bill through the Senate and then to build a compromise with the House. . .," write the New York Times' Carl Hulse and Jim Rutenberg who also report that Vice President Cheney will be stepping up his efforts to sell the President's plan -- as he did yesterday on Rush Limbaugh's radio show. LINK

More Hulse/Rutenberg: ". . . a day after Mr. Bush delivered a nationally televised address on the issue from the Oval Office, there was little immediate evidence that he had bridged the deep divide in his own party or rallied public opinion sufficiently to break the impasse." Dan Bartlett, who likes ice metaphors, exhibits his usual patience.

The New York Times' John Broder has reaction from the four border governors with Gov. Perry (R-TX), unsurprisingly, appearing most supportive of the President's plan. The governors were not consulted on the President's immigration reform initiative, but did receive a briefing from Rove and DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff three hours before the President's speech on Monday. LINK

The Los Angeles Times focuses on the "cool" reaction the President's speech received yesterday from "key Republican lawmakers," especially in the House, where "there was little sign that Bush's call for broader legislation had made much headway among Republican leaders." LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Mark Silva and Frank James write that President Bush confronted the political reality Tuesday of "how much more difficult it will be to sell his plans on Capitol Hill than it was to explain them on national television this week." LINK

The Washington Post Notes that "conservative activists including National Review editors and Rush Limbaugh" had the same reaction as House Republicans, spending yesterday "lambasting" the President's speech. LINK

And the speech didn't fare much better among immigration activists -- one of whom tells the Washington Post it was "inspired by Mary Poppins -- a spoonful of border enforcement makes the amnesty go down." LINK

But Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson gives the speech a lukewarm thumbs up: "For once the president unveiled a policy that wasn't crafted solely by and for right-wing ideologues and buttressed entirely by appeals to our phobias." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Julian E. Barnes writes of the logistical and training difficulties the National Guard will have to confront before deploying to the border. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's ed board is wondering whether President Bush's own political party will is "smart enough" to "seize the moment" and follow the President's lead on immigration, or whether it would "rather run off on the anti-immigration rails."

Meanwhile, the Washington Post's ed board slams the President's proposal to deploy the National Guard to the border. LINK

David Broder doesn't much like the National Guard proposal either. LINK

"Attorney General Alberto Gonzales admitted yesterday it's 'just not clear' if his Mexican-immigrant grandparents settled in the U.S. legally," reports the New York Daily News. LINK

The "We Are America" alliance's drive to register one million Latinos to vote kicks off today, according to the Los Angeles Times. LINK

The Washington Times' Charles Hurt takes issue with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) "numbers game." LINK

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) continues his push for fencing on the border. LINK

Surveillance politics:

What if USA Today was wrong, The Note asks innocently?

The Los Angeles Times takes Note of the "ancillary benefits" to Republicans of expanding the briefings: "[S]enior congressional aides said that because of the rules of handling classified information, members who are briefed will likely have to be more circumspect in their public discussions of it, blunting their ability to criticize it." LINK

"'When they know about it, they are obligated to be quiet,' said one senior Republican Senate aide."

The Washington Post on the same: LINK

Verizon jumps on the Bell South band wagon, USA Today reports. LINK

The Washington Post's Arshad Mohammed tries to make heads or tails out of yesterday's confusing Verizon press release. LINK

Fitzgerald investigation:

The Washington Post's Jeffrey Smith on the New York Times and Time mgazine agreeing to turn over reporters' notebooks to the judge in the Scooter Libby trial. LINK

Politics of Medicare:

The Washington Post's Amy Goldstein and Shailagh Murray write of the Administration's use of "superlatives" in discussing the Medicare prescription drug program's 90 percent signup rate. LINK

But the Los Angeles Times says the balloons and self-congratulations may be coming too soon: "3 million low-income seniors who could benefit most from its subsidies remained on the sidelines," Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar reports. LINK

Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Senator Max Baucus (D-MO) push for legislation that would scratch the Monday Medicare deadline for seniors. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

The Hll's Patrick O'Connor reports on congressional budget movement. LINK


The New York Times continues its comprehensive work on Rep. Allan Mollohan's (D-WV) finances with a look at his condo rental management business in Washington, DC with a distant and bankrupt cousin of his. LINK

Tony Snow era:

USA Today on Tony Snow's emotional debut. LINK

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, like much of the rest of the press corps, rates Snow's first briefing a "boffo debut." LINK

The New York Times' Alessandra Stanley ledes her review of Snow's first day at the podium with his unfortunate use of "tar baby," but mostly gives him good marks. LINK

Politics of the cloakroom:

During Tuesday's New Orleans mayoral debate between incumbent Mayor Ray Nagin (D) and Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu (D-LA), the candidates were asked about Sen. Clinton's 2008 prospects.

In an answer that might make things uncomfortable for his sister, Lt. Gov. Landrieu blurted out, "Not going to make it."

Mayor Nagin, by contrast, suggested that Sen. Clinton has "got a shot" and said he would choose the former First Lady over the Republican presidential frontrunner, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Nagin said he's always been impressed by the former First Lady whom he described as having a "good presence."

"She's a bit controversial," Nagin added. "But I like that."

New Orleans:

In the debate, "Nagin spent the better part of the hour long debate defending his actions" while Landrieu argued that the city has made "little progress in the nine months since Katrina hit," reports MSNBC's Huma Zaidi. LINK

Brian Thevenot of the Times Picayune writes that both candidates seemed to align with one another in the face of co-moderators who jabbed at both politicians. LINK

The AP reports that Mayor Nagin labeled his opponent as "old city politics." LINK

The New Orleans Times-Picayune endorses Landrieu for mayor. LINK

Virginia Boulet, a former New Orleans mayoral candidate, has thrown her support behind Nagin. LINK

Yesterday's results: PA, OR, KY:

In yesterday's voting, Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D-OR) survived his primary while Bob Casey officially earned the right to take on Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) in November after garnering more than 80 percent of the vote.

Gov. Kulongoski will square off against Republican Ron Saxton in November, reports the Portland Oregonian. LINK

The Philadelphia Inquirer on Casey's easy win and "fierce fight" ahead. LINK

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Tom Ferrick Jr. is already calling the Casey/Santorum race "too close to call." LINK

In Kentucky, the Cournier Journal reports that LEO newspaper founder John Yarmuth said last night that he is ready to challenge five-term Rep. Anne Northup (R-KY) after "cruising" to an easy Democratic primary win. LINK

The Louisville Courier-Journal on the rest of the House winners in Kentucky. LINK

2006: House:

Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY), the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Tuesday that it was "up to the candidate in each district" whether he or she wants to support President Bush's immigration proposals.

Reynolds was asked during a pen-and-pad briefing at NRCC headquarters whether he would be encouraging Republican members of Congress to rally behind the President's push for a comprehensive approach to illegal immigration.

"They should do what they feel in their conscience they ought to do," he said. "They have to live with what they say."

Reynolds advised Republican Members of Congress who are seeking re-election to "make sure you understand exactly what's happening in your district."

With regards to the national stature of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Reynolds said that with the exception of Miami, "It's kind of an open secret that Nancy Pelosi doesn't travel much below the Mason-Dixon line."

After sitting through another tight-lipped briefing, the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza wrote, "For much of the briefing, which Reynolds does regularly with a group of D.C.-based political reporters, he refused to offer any meaningful comment on the issues of the day." LINK

Cillizza also wrote that "while Reynolds is technically right in citing the overall popularity of inidvidual incumbents, he may be too optimistic about what those poll numbers mean in the battle for the majority."

The DCCC is putting up a week's worth of radio spots (at a cost of $100,000) on Christian conservative radio stations in five GOP held districts tying the incumbents to President Bush's plan to overhaul Social Security -- including two districts to which the President will find himself traveling this week. Here's the New York Times' Hulse with that story. LINK

The Hill's Alexander Bolton Notes that many Pennsylvania Republicans believe Rep. John Murtha's (D-PA) is blocking additional money flow to their districts and worry about the effects in their 2006 campaigns. LINK

2006: Governor:

Per the Boston Globe, Massachusetts gubernatorial hopeful and Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey spent yesterday "reaching out to moderates" and backing "away from President Bush" on immigration. LINK

Thomas Beaumont of the Des Moines Register reports that the 2006 Iowa gubernatorial tv ad campaigns are up and running. LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

Gov. Schwarzenegger asks President Bush for details, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The paper expects those specifics to come out today. LINK

Bush Administration:

Tom Friedman uses his New York Times column to bemoan the Goss/Foggo era at the CIA and he suggests that the Bush Administration has been one where loyalty trumps expertise. LINK


The New York Post's Fred Dicker writes, "A majority of New York voters want Rudy Giuliani to run for president, and almost half say Hillary Rodham Clinton should go for it, too - but only 22 percent want Gov. Pataki to seek the nation's highest office," according to a new Marist poll. LINK

When Rep. Reynolds was asked about Pataki as a presidential prospect, the NRCC chair said "he's my friend" while adding (in a less-than-glowing way) that it is "up to the states to determine if he'll be an appealing candidate."

The New York Daily News' Helen Kennedy Notes that a majority of New Yorkers don't think either Sen. Clinton or former Mayor Giuliani can win the presidency. LINK

2008: Republicans:

The Boston Herald takes on Romney's remark on Good Morning America yesterday in which he warned of the possibility of "looting" in the face of severe flooding; per the Herald, "the remarks puzzled local officials who reported no incidents of looting in the Bay State, New Hampshire or Maine, and prompted experts to question if Romney was raising red flags for no reason - or for political reasons." LINK

The chief justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court is set to retire in July, reports the Boston Globe, which will give Gov. Romney the opportunity to "fill the most prominent judgeship likely to become vacant in his tenure with someone whose background will showcase Romney's conservative bona fides for a possible presidential bid in 2008." LINK

In his New York Post op-ed Eric Fettmann writes of the changing nature of the McCain-media relationship. LINK

"Actually, much of the criticism of McCain comes from people who are finally waking up to the fact that, for all his lapses from GOP orthodoxy, the Arizona senator is very much a conservative and always has been - particularly on the kind of social issues on which liberalism and conservatism are conventionally defined."

Patrick Healy of the New York Times writes that "on balance," the applause for McCain at Columbia "outweighed the boos" while Noting that students limited their demonstrations to "the visual variety." LINK

McCain "was greeted with a mix of cheers and jeers" yesterday at Columbia University, reports the New York Post. LINK

The New York Daily News on the "rain-soaked crowd." LINK

"That's a fact that many on the left and in the media conveniently ignored two years ago, when they literally pleaded with McCain to run with John Kerry on the 'dream team' that would, presumably, send President Bush packing."

The Washington Times' Ralph Z. Hallow (he of the Rove-complimented haircut) writes that Huckabee "made it official" yesterday, "sort of." LINK

Huckabee told reporters in Washington yesterday that he is "seriously" preparing a run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. He said the biggest impediment is money and added that he wouldn't mind being tagged as a "populist."

"'I have more in common with the people working in the kitchen than with those sitting at the head table,' he said."

Jonathan Allen of The Hill reports that Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) is facing ciriticism for putting some judicial nominations on the backburner. LINK

Gov. Pataki would honor any request for New York National Guard troops to assist in border control support, reports the New York Post. LINK

2008: Democrats:

The Hillary Clinton folks don't throw around the signature descriptive term "major policy address" very often, so when they do, The Note knows they mean business. On Tuesday, May 23 at the National Press Club, for the second time in six weeks, the Senator from Chappaqua will be giving just such a talk, delivering another in what is expected to be a series of big policy speeches throughout the year through her November re-election date with destiny.

The first speech, of course, was on the economy last month in Chicago. That one, at the very least, sure did attract the attention of David Brooks, which we suspect was the goal.

This time, the topic is the oh-so-timely one of energy. The speech will be given, The Note has learned, at a specially convened NPC "Breakfast" on the 23rd (Note inquiry to People Magazine's clever Jane Podesta, who landed the Big Kahuna for NPC as head of its speakers committee: Did you convince Lorraine and Philippe to employ your venue with the argument that breakfast is the most important meal of the day?)

While the speech is still very much taking shape, we're told two things: First, that just like the Chicago speech, it will be positive and high-minded, sans any Bush bashing. Second, that Sen. Clinton will not blame the current energy crisis on members of Generation Y who leave the lights on and think nothing of charging their iPods just to watch them run down. No word yet on whether the Senator's recent Broadway turn will result in advocacy of "Steam Heat" as an alternative source of energy.

When The Note asked Clinton spokesgal Ann Lewis for an on-the-record comment on the content of the speech, hoping to spice up this otherwise dull item with a little humor, Lewis said, "Sen. Clinton is running hard for re-election, so she can continue the important work of serving the people of New York."

When pressed, Lewis added, "I have nothing else for you on that." *

The New York Observer's Jason Horowitz pieces together Sen. Clinton's quiet strategy on Iraq. LINK

The New York Observer's Richard Brookhiser likens President Bush's immigration policy that of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). LINK

Politics of the environment:

The Wall Street Journal's Jim Carlton reports that environmental groups have gained "little traction" in Washington under a White House and Congress dominated by GOPers. "But locally, across the country, green groups are joining with traditional adversaries on local issues and making some inroads." LINK

House of Labor:

Per the Wall Street Journal's John Stoll, UAW members voted in favor of authorizing a strike against Delphi if the auto-parts maker moves on a plan to throw out labor contracts, "a development that could lead to costly production disruptions" for GM.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard's visit:

The Washington Post's Peter Baker uses Australian Prime Minister John Howard's visit to the White House to review how, besides Baker, the members of the "coalition of the willing" are dropping like flies. LINK

Anita Huslin and Roxanne Roberts dish the dirt on last night's formal White House dinner with Howard in the Washington Post Style section. LINK


Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) will give back the $23,000 he received for a screenplay after the producer who gave him the money pled guilty yesterday to fraud. LINK yesterday launched its new "Power Rankings" of lawmakers on the Hill. LINK

The Hill reports that some congressional aides are not happy with the 2005 "power ranking" survey done by software company Knowlegis, which attempted to rank members of Congress using "15 characteristics of power that are based on 283 variables." LINK

*Ann Lewis was not actually interviewed for this story. But, instead, The Note included this parody/imagined "interview." Any resemblance to a real interview with Ann Lewis is intentional.