The Note: Kissing Ben Nelson


Miles O'Brien may not necessarily understand why allowing same-sex couples to marry is threatening to other people, but President Bush seems to know.

Although Bush's profane "friend" told Newsweek that, uhm, the President doesn't care a whit about the issue. Which isn't true. LINK

But at the Gang of 500 brunch at Lauriol Plaza yesterday, there were LOTS of gay couples and an acceptance of the homo-sex-ual lifestyle and no one seemed to think it was odd, and there was no queasiness, and, as best we could tell, no one turned into a pillar of salt.

In any case, some members of the media are convinced that President Bush and Karl Rove and Sen./Dr./Leader Frist are taking cynical advantage of the Massachusetts Supreme Court's power play in order to "pay off" their easily led, home-schooled, conservative Christian supporters, who will punish them at the ballot box in November by staying home if they aren't catered to with losing Capitol Hill votes, because the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman must be protected or, or. . . or. . .

We'll let the Big Man explain it to you fifteen minutes before the Senate convenes and takes up the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, when President Bush is scheduled to make remarks on the topic in the EEOB at 1:45 pm ET before a group of supporters of the ban.

(Place your bets now on whether he gets cable roadblock coverage or not.)

But this matter ain't the only hot button that will be pressed this work as part of the Republican conspiracy.

If banning same sex marriage and flag burning and repealing the estate tax doesn't gin up the conservative base of the Republican Party, what will? Perhaps immigration -- the other dominant White House issue of the week -- but not likely in the way the folks at 1600 prefer.

"Starting today, we'll see the debate and potentially votes on the Senate floor on two proposals for constitutional amendments -- one to enshrine the institution of marriage as between one man and one woman and the other to ban flag burning (which will come at the end of the month). The debates on these should take all week. It is unclear when actual votes will occur -- perhaps Wednesday for the same-sex marriage ban. What is clear is how those votes will turn out:," writes ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf - our man on the Hill.

"Republican leaders do not have the votes to pass either of these amendments through the Senate, much less the House and 3/4s of the state legislatures."

The marriage amendment vote could come as early as Wednesday and Sen. Frist's office expects a procedural vote on the full repeal of the estate tax to occur by Thursday. (Paul Krugman reminds readers of his New York Times column how Hurricane Katrina scuttled the last planned vote on the estate tax and urges the Senate to defeat the repeal attempt with specific shout-outs ("call-outs," really) to McCain, Baucus, and Chafee. LINK)

Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) holds a 10:30 am ET Capitol Hill news conference on the marriage amendment.

The Human Rights Campaign has organized a 1:00 pm ET press conference on the West Front of the US Capitol with "working Americans" who are expected to oppose the amendment and urge Congress to "get back to America's priorities"

For those who can't wait for ABC News' latest poll results on same-sex marriage -- set to be released at 5:00 pm ET -- here's a quick summary, courtesy of ABC News polling director Gary Langer, of what we know:

Langer: "Most Americans don't think gay marriage should be legal. But views on a constitutional amendment to ban it are a different matter – one that depends on how the issue and options are presented."

"On the first question, the latest data are from a Gallup poll in May: Fifty-eight percent said gay marriages should not be recognized as legally valid. That's about the same as it was in Gallup polls in April 2005 and August 2005 alike."

"Fewer people in Gallup's poll last month favored a constitutional amendment barring gay marriage: Fifty percent in favor, 47 percent opposed. But we [ask the question in a different way.]"

"The reason is that asking if people favor or oppose an amendment to do XYZ conflates views on the issue (in this case gay marriage) with views on an amendment to ban it. You can be opposed to gay marriage, but also think it should be something for the states to legislate – that it doesn't rise to the level of amending the Constitution. That option should be offered."

"We last asked it this way in April 2005: Whether people support a constitutional amendment on gay marriage, or think it should be left to the states. Just 39 percent supported an amendment."

As for the estate tax repeal, the pro-repeal Free Enterprise Fund begins airing television ads statewide in Washington, South Dakota, Louisiana, and Rhode Island today. The group plans to expand its buy to national cable on the Fox News Channel tomorrow.

President Bush also plans to meet with the President of the Republic of Congo (9:05 am ET), the Chinese Leadership Program fellows (10:10 am ET), and the President of Honduras today (11:05 am ET).

Tony Snow is scheduled to gaggle off-camera at 10:15 am ET and brief on-camera at 12:30 pm ET.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Treasury Secretary Mineta, Sens. Kennedy and Kerry (D-MA), and others attend the 11:00 am ET Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill tunnel dedication in Boston, MA.

Vice President Cheney attends a 6:00 pm ET RNC fundraiser in Lake Forest, IL at a private residence where 50 people are expected to attend and a total of $300,000 is the anticipated haul. LINK

First Lady Laura Bush visits Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Washington, DC to award one of her foundation's grants to America's libraries.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) meets with Treasury Secretary nominee Paulson at 5:30 pm ET and will likely talk to the press following the meeting.

At 11:00 am ET, the Center for Public Integrity, along with Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and American Public Media's "Marketplace," release results of an investigation into privately sponsored trips taken by members of Congress and their aides at George Washington University.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is expected to address over 1,000 supporters at an open press noon ET "New York Women for Hillary" fundraising luncheon in New York City.

Former President Clinton delivers the commencement address at Princeton University's Class Day at 10:30 am ET and then heads up to South Portland, ME to keynote a 5:30 pm ET fundraiser for Gov. John Baldacci's (D-ME) reelection campaign.

On this primary-eve day in the Hawkeye State, Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) heads to his homeland. Vilsack is scheduled to address the American Wind Energy conference in Pittsburgh, PA at 9:10 am ET.

Fresh from his New Hampshire Democratic convention appearance over the weekend, former Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) is in New York City today. Warner is scheduled to headline DL21C's inaugural "Eye on the 2008 Presidential Election" series event where he will address young Gotham Democrats at "Embassy." LINK

Former. Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) is in Israel discussing Middle East peace, Iran, and other issues with Israeli leaders.

Politics of same-sex marriage:

At the top of "Good Morning America," ABC News' Charlie Gibson had this to say about President Bush's push to ban gay marriage: "Does he really think it's the right thing to do? Or is it just politics?

On NBC's "Today" show this morning, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough was asked why the President is pushing the same-sex marriage ban. "Because he's at 29 percent and he needs his base. . . If he gets his conservative base back he'll get himself back to the low 40's," answered Scarborough.

"It will work. It worked in 2004. It will work in 2006," added Scarborough.

While appearing on "Good Morning America," San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom accused President Bush of pandering to his evangelical base by pushing a measure that doesn't have a "snowball's chance" of passing.

Newsom also lamented that the President would push a gay marriage ban on the 25th year anniversary of HIV and AIDS.

Matt Dowd and Grover Norquist are dubious at best at the ability of same-sex marriage initiatives to drive turnout, reports Newsweek's Rosenberg. LINK

"While the GOP leadership clearly hopes this tack can revive their sputtering election prospects this fall, some GOP strategists aren't so sure. Pew polls show a 10-point jump in support for gay marriage since 2004. And Bush pollster Matthew Dowd doubts it was decisive last time around. 'It didn't drive turnout in 2004,' he says. 'That is urban legend.' Turnout was the same in states with bans on the ballot and those without, Dowd says. GOP consultant Grover Norquist also questions how gay marriage plays as an electoral issue. Though social conservatives vote for marriage bans, it's not clear whether that will translate into votes for GOP candidates. 'We don't have much to go on,' he says."

The New York Post picks up the highlights of Newsweek's coverage. LINK

"The measure has 31 GOP sponsors, and one said yesterday the debate would just be a start. 'The fact that we'll have a majority vote but not a two-thirds vote doesn't mean that you don't try,' Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) said on CNN's 'Late Edition,'" reports the New York Daily News. LINK

The Washington Times on the expected Wednesday vote: LINK

Estate tax politics:

In advance of this week's vote, the Washington Post's Sebastian Mallaby slams efforts to repeal the estate tax as a reward for the hereditary elite while Noting that GOPers are "picking up support from renegade Democrats, such as Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Bill Nelson of Florida, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Max Baucus of Montana." LINK

In a companion op-ed, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) calls the estate tax, or the "death tax," as he prefers to call it, an "unfair burden on families." LINK

In an editorial calling on the Senate to ignore "highly dubious" revenue estimates, the Wall Street Journal's ed board Notes that Sen. Evan Bayh "says he favors repeal in principle but is nervous about potential revenue losses."

Politics of immigration:

Robert Novak dedicates his column to the Grassley/Thomas constitutional procedural hurdle in the immigration bill due to its revenue component, as well as bemoaning midnight tax increases. LINK

Frank James, Michael Tackett and Naftali Bendavi of the Chicago Tribune Note that the self coined "work horse," Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), may not win the vote for Mr. Congeniality, but his no fuss attitude makes him agreeable with voters and a main player within the immigration debate on the Hill. LINK

Impeachment politics:

The AP's Glenn Adams reported on Sunday that Maine's Democratic State Convention delegates passed a resolution calling for impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. LINK

AP: "The strongly worded resolution says the president and vice president have 'betrayed their oaths' in their prosecution of the war in Iraq, treatment and detainment of prisoners and use of illegal domestic surveillance."

Bush Administration agenda:

The New York Post editorial board delivers a scathing rebuke of the Bush Administration, with an implicit homage to Mike Dukakis' 1988 theory of the case. LINK

In a Washington Post op-ed, Peter Wehner, the director of the White House's Office of Strategic Initiatives, writes that there are "positive trends and considerable progress" in the areas of "cultural renewal," economic growth, and national security that are obscured by the "difficult and costly war in Iraq," Iran's effort to build a nuclear weapon, high gas prices, the cost of Katrina, and the "major problem" of illegal immigration. LINK

Steve Chapman of the Baltimore Sun columnizes that Karl Rove still has more power than anyone else on Bush's economic team. LINK

Political activists in the Indian-American community are flexing their lobbying muscle in support of President Bush's nuclear pact with India, reports the New York Times. LINK

"The Bush administration plans this week to issue strict standards requiring more than 50 million low-income people on Medicaid to prove they are United States citizens by showing passports or birth certificates and a limited number of other documents," writes the New York Times' Robert Pear. LINK

Paulson for Treasury Secretary:

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, R. Glenn Hubbard, the former chairman of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, cheers the selection of Hank Paulson to be Treasury Secretary while urging him to confront fears about a large tax increase and entitlement spending.

The economy:

Bloomberg's Scott Lanman reports that today's panel discussion with Fed Chair Ben Bernanke and European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet and Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Toshiro Muto may feature Bernanke's "most extensive comments on the economy and rates since his April 27 testimony before Congress's Joint Economic Committee." LINK

Rep. Jefferson:

On the Washington Post's front page, Allan Lengel and Jonathan Weisman write that as the separation of powers controversy "subsides, the focus has shifted back to Jefferson and the corporate labyrinth that federal authorities say he erected to secretly receive illegal payments for promoting high-tech ventures in Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria." LINK

The Post headline writer seems to write with conviction.

Steve Kornacki of Roll Call reports Rep. Jefferson's schedule is nothing but busy despite lingering federal investigations.

Rep. Lewis:

Roll Call's John Bresnahan reports that the investigation of Rep. Jerry Lewis, (R-CA) continues as a federal grand jury subpoenas individuals.

In Saturday's New York Times, David Kirkpatrick looked at Lewis' universe through his former aide turned lobbyist, Letitia Hoadley White. LINK


The San Diego Union-Tribune's Dani Dodge reported over the weekend that on Thursday, Democratic House nominee Francine Busby told a predominantly Latino crowd that "You don't need papers for voting." A member of the audience recorded Busby's words, to which she had immediately added, "You don't need to be a registered voter to help [the campaign]" to clarify. LINK

Busby's opponent, lobbyist and former Congressman Brian Bilbray, wasted no time in criticizing her, saying, "She's soliciting illegal aliens to campaign for her and it's on tape -- this isn't exactly what you call the pinnacle of ethical campaign strategy," and added, "I don't know how she shows her face."

It's the story that dominated the echo chamber heading into tomorrow's vote.

The NRCC's Carl Forti called Busby's "you don't need papers for voting" comment a "momentum stopper."

"I wouldn't think that she would want the last weekend of the campaign to be about whether or not she was encouraging illegals to vote," said Forti.

Mindful that Busby has never polled higher than 47 percent and that undecideds are expected to break GOP by a margin of two-to-one, the DCCC was tickled pink over the weekend that the North County Times ran a "Griffith emphasizes his conservatism" header over the weekend. LINK

Griffith is the Minuteman-backed candidate whom Democrats are hoping will bleed Bilbray of votes on the right, making it possible for Busby to win without ever getting over fifty.

In his Roll Call column, Stu Rothenberg writes: "The National Republican Congressional Committee is pouring resources into this race at an astonishing rate in hopes of saving the seat. But the NRCC will not be able to put $5 million into every contest this fall, so a Bilbray victory, if it happens, should not mislead observers into thinking that Democratic prospects in the fall have been exaggerated."

In Sunday's Washington Post, Chris Cillizza reported that the "virtual dead heat" in CA-50 has prompted "alarm" among GOPers who "worry that a loss in a historically conservative district could presage a national trend against them in the fall." LINK

2006: landscape:

Per Time magazine's Perry Bacon Jr. and Mike Allen, "hunger for a November landslide has not kept Democrats from flying off in a variety of ideological and strategic directions." LINK

Gay-rights messages took up much of the valuable real estate on the DNC's home page on Friday and Saturday which warned GOPers, "Don't Trample on LGBT Americans for Partisan Gain," to which a "shocked" House Democratic official replied, "Wow! That's way off our message."

2006: House:

The San Francisco Chronicle on Rep. Richard Pombo's conflict with some environmentalists. LINK

2006: Senate:

Per The Hill, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) prepares for the title of longest serving member of the Senate on June 12, 2006. LINK

Time magazine's Joe Klein writes that Jim Webb is a "crucial figure" in the recent history of the Democratic Party while Noting that his candidacy is a "litmus test" for a party given that "liberals hunt down heretics," as Michael Kinsley once wrote. LINK

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Gov. Edward Rendell (D-PA), while himself running for re-election, urged gay rights activists in Pittsburgh to defeat Republican Senator Rick Santorum with "dignity," "fairness," and "understanding." LINK

USA Today wins the award for oddest lede this morning: "Amid the sweaty crowds at Red Belly Day, bypassing the gospel singers, the funnel cakes and the belly-flop contest in the Suwannee River, the true believers find their way to Rep. Katherine Harris." LINK

The Washington Times has Sen. Debbie Stabenow straddling the immigration fence (pun intended). LINK

The Washington Times writes up the Tennessee Senate primary, and sees trouble ahead for the GOP. LINK

Underdog senatorial candidate Jon Tester -- who has recently gained traction against longtime frontrunner John Morrison -- strayed from political slogans in his last weekend of campaigning and instead pushed the idea that he is most likely to win in the general election. LINK

Tester told the Billings Gazette's Mike Stark, "For them [voters] the investment right now is that they want someone that can beat [Sen.] Conrad Burns in November." At a Sunday BBQ, a supporter told Tester, "You better win." The farmer-turned-politician responded, "If I don't win, you can kick me in the butt."

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Republican frontrunner Thomas Kean, Jr. have agreed to two televised debates on June 25th and June 26th if they win their parties' nominations tomorrow. LINK

2006: Governor:

In the aftermath of the South Dakota anti-abortion law, Monica Davey of the New York Times takes a look at how the abortion issue is playing in state races this year with a primary focus on the Democratic gubernatorial primary in Iowa. LINK

(Be sure to read all the way down to enjoy a Yepsen quote, the Des Moines Register poll results, and Maria Comella refusing to make her boss available for a chat with Davey.)

Although that Des Moines Register poll shows Chet Cullver leading in the Iowa Democratic gubernatorial primary, the paper reports that the candidates expect it to be close. "That poll had Culver receiving support from 36 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, compared with 28 percent for Blouin and with 21 percent for Fallon. Lesser-known candidate Sal Mohamed, a Sioux City engineer, had 1 percent in the poll." LINK

The New York Post's Lovett explores John Faso's Democratic roots in his profile on the Republican Party designee for governor. LINK

Fred Dicker reports New York GOP chairman Minarik will now pivot from being a Weld supporter to urging him to drop out of the race to avoid a primary. LINK

Wayne Slater and Robert T. Garrett of the Dallas Morning News report that the normally cohesive Republican Party in the Lone Star State is fighting an internal battle during its annual convention. LINK

"The red-state faithful have seen the GOP battered on the national stage by a string of miscues that has ignited Democratic hopes of gains in the fall," the authors write, but leaders have also been "insulted" locally by Gov. Rick Perry's business taxes to fund public schools and a lacking commitment to "family values," so says Christian leader, Rev. Rick Scarborough.

Sunday's Boston Globe report on Deval Patrick's big convention win: LINK

Bill Barrow of the Mobile Press-Register delivers an excellent run-down of tomorrow's gubernatorial primaries, and writes "there are enough wild cards present to make the usual rules anything but fail-safe in predicting just who'll be left standing." LINK

The Birmingham News' Kim Chandler explains why former Gov. (and current candidate) Don Siegelman (D-AL) "criss-crossed" the state in a last ditch effort for votes yesterday: today, he will be in Court for the 24th day of testimony concerning racketeering charges from his time as governor. LINK

The Miami Herald reports that former Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) will chair Democratic hopeful Jim Davis' gubernatorial campaign for the post-Jeb Bush era. LINK

2006: ballot measures:

Congress Daily AM reports that "political brushfires" are igniting in two Western states over "potential ballot initiatives that would restrict illegal immigrants' access to state social services."


The Washington Post's Michael Shear reports that the "orbits" of Gov. Warner and Sen. Allen "collided" Saturday at Richmond's "swank Jefferson Hotel, "offering a preview of what the 2008 election might bring if Virginia's two most ambitious politicians seek the White House." LINK

2008: Republicans:

Bill Theobald of The Tennessean writes that Sen./Dr./Leader Frist's stringent support for the Federal Marriage Amendment -- to protect, as Frist says, "the cornerstone of our society" -- has earned him the respect of Christian conservatives that not even President Bush can match. Tony Perkins, president of the powerful Family Research Council, told Theobald, "[Frist] has provided more leadership on core issues than anyone, including President Bush." LINK

Clearly no fan of George Pataki's, John Heilemann of New York Magazine includes this assessment of the state of ground zero in his look at Pataki's potential presidential campaign: ". . . the state of ground zero, which nearly five years after 9/11 remains an utter, shameful mess -- for which no one deserves more blame than Pataki, whose management of the rebuilding efforts has been marked by long periods of feckless inattention, punctuated by sporadic bursts of gratuitous pandering, witless posturing, and rank incompetence." LINK

Dan Schnur makes an appearance in the piece with this clever sports metaphor on a Pataki candidacy: "He's the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee of the McCain-Giuliani bracket."

The second-most senior governor in the nation announced on Friday that he has changed the name of his political action committee from Healthy America -- which focused on fighting obesity in Arkansas and elsewhere -- to Hope for America -- which will have a "broader focus" according to Governor Mike Huckabee. LINK

"Nice hair, cute face, big on family but a bit of a follower -- that's a Romney for you"-- is how the Boston Herald's Kevin Rothstein summed up the similarities between Gov. Romney and Romney sheep. LINK

2008: Democrats:'s Walter Shapiro took his one-car caravan to the New Hampshire Democratic convention this weekend for his first Granite State trip of the cycle. LINK

"Hillary and probable non-candidate Al Gore aside, the two Democrats who have had the best run of it in 2006 are unquestionably Feingold and Warner, representing the purist and pragmatic wings of the party," writes Shapiro.

And check out this historical context: "In June 2002, I made my first trip to New Hampshire for the 2004 presidential cycle. Observing Feingold and Warner this weekend for the first time in a primary state, I was intrigued to discover that both candidates are more adept at this stage than their counterparts were four years ago."

"As the Senate's longtime naysayer, Feingold offers an authenticity in his left-wing political persona that Howard Dean -- the moderate governor of Vermont who went on to oppose the Iraq war -- could never match. Warner boasts the magnetic appeal of a John Edwards and the easy charm of a winner. (Asked about his resemblance to Bobby Kennedy, Warner joked, 'It's my horse teeth.') But, unlike Edwards in 2002, Warner brings with him a hefty record of accomplishment as a governor."

"In fact, maybe the best headline for the weekend should be, 'New Hampshire Democrats Get Along Fine Without Hillary.'"

The Union Leader on Feingold and Warner's battle cry at the New Hampshire Democratic Convention. LINK

The Concord Monitor on the same: LINK

Feingold and Warner pledged to keep New Hampshire first when speaking at Saturday's Democratic convention in that state, the Union Leader reports. LINK

In a Q&A with the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and Dan Balz, Sen. Feingold criticizes paid political pundits and paid political consultants -- many of whom served in the Clinton Administration -- who make their living coming up to the Capitol and telling the Democratic leadership that a clear consensus position on Iraq is a loser. LINK

"'You can't do a timetable. You can't talk about censure. You can't talk about illegal wiretapping. What you just have to talk about is domestic issues or sort of just talk about homeland security in the sense of port security.' This is the advice. I've heard it given. It is bad advice. It is advice that we got in 2002 and 2004. And we lost because we were perceived as unable to take the tough stands that are needed to change course in the fight against terrorism. So it is a Washington problem of people listening not to their constituents but of listening to the paid political operatives who run this town."

Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) told Tim Russert on Meet the Press yesterday that he would vote against a federal amendment banning gay marriage, saying, "We already have a law, the Defense of Marriage Act. . . . Nobody has violated that law. There's been no challenge to that law. Why do we need a constitutional amendment?" LINK

Also on "Meet the Press," Biden said "Gore would be a strong candidate if he entered the race," the AP reports. 'He would be viable, and he would be welcome,' Biden said. . . 'It would add to the debate in this party to have him.'" LINK

Yepsen on Vilsack - it doesn't get much better than that, folks. LINK

The Sacramento Bee's Maragaret Talev analyzes the historical background for political comebacks, such as those of potential candidates Kerry, Edwards, and Gore in 2008. Her conclusion? The men should find another job. LINK

Take out your calendars and circle these dates. Sen. Clinton's summer fundraising tour may soon be coming to your town (if you live in the New York-Hamptons-Washington corridor).

In addition to today's Manhattan luncheon. . .

For $4200 per person, donors will get to dine with Sen. Clinton at her Washington, DC residence on Wednesday June 7.

The next night, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer will host a $250 per person ($1,000 if you want to VIP treatment) fundraiser at Stephan Weiss Studio in New York City. President Bill Clinton and Carly Simon headline the event.

Next Tuesday, June 13, Time Equities CEO Francis Greenburger hosts a $5,000/couple fundraiser with Sen. Clinton at a dinner at her Washington, DC residence.

If you like the idea of dining with Sen. Clinton, but do not like the idea of hopping on the Shuttle to do so in Washington, DC, fear not. You can have dinner with the Senator at the home of Bronson Van Wyck in New York City on June 23 for $4200/person.

The July 29 Saratoga event and the. . . wait for it. . . Hamptons weekend August 10 - 13 are sure to be enormous draws.

Sen. Clinton's campaign spokeswoman Ann Lewis says, "Thank you for Noting the breadth of support for Senator Clinton's re-election campaign. Today, Hillary will address more than 1,000 supporters from all over New York at a Women for Hillary lunch. She will speak about a number of issues of concern to New Yorkers, including the recent discovery by the Department of Homeland Security that NY has no national icons or monuments."


"The striking thing about Al Gore's appearance on ABC's "This Week" program Sunday was that he did not call for any sort of deadline-driven withdrawal from Iraq. Quite the opposite--he was careful to emphasize the potential of a pullout to make the situation worse," writes Slate's Mickey Kaus. LINK

"Gore might have said this because he didn't want to make news that would distract from his global warming pitch; he might have said it because he's willing to cede John Kerry the left in any presidential primary Iraq debate. But the most likely reason he said it is because he actually believes it, which will be highly disappointing to pro-withdrawal Democrats who have been pushing a Gore candidacy out of frustration with Hillary's pro-war stands. Turns out he's just another 'now-that-we're-there' Democrat."

The Schwarzenegger Era:

On the front page of the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal, Christopher Cooper and Jim Carlton had Gov. Schwarzenegger saying: "I always like to win. I don't get hung up on ideology. Whatever it takes, I will do" in a piece that looked at the ways in which his "huge spending plans" have revived his fortunes in California while "irking" Republicans.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls are pulling out all the last-minute stops before Tuesday's primary. The paper has State Treasurer Phil Angelides bringing in ringers, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, to counter Westley's "Internet video appeal to young voters, putting it up on Yahoo's popular YouTube clip service." LINK

Robert Salladay and Seema Mehta have Sen. Feinstein "angrily denouncing" Westly as untrustworthy because of a television ad he has been running against Angelides. Campaigning with Angelides in San Francisco, Feinstein said the ad that "implied he had participated in the dumping of sludge into Lake Tahoe was 'dastardly' and 'false.' LINK

In a line that is sure to return in Schwarzenegger's fall campaign if Westly wins on Tuesday, Feinstein said: "'How could I ever trust someone who said that about this man?' she asked a union audience."

The Los Angeles Times' Michael Finnegan frames the primary contest between Angelides and Westly as mirroring national debates over how liberal the Democratic Party should be as the state's treasurer and controller spar over taxes and combativeness. LINK

USA Today's reports on California's primary and sees things looking up for the Governator. "But as Democrats prepare to vote Tuesday to nominate his challenger, there's a sense the former movie star is making a deft recovery and has a good chance to beat a lesser-known Democrat this fall." LINK

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a Field Poll shows Schwarzenegger's approval ratings have begun to climb with independent voters. LINK


The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller offered a Sunday adieu to her beloved White House beat by trying to knock down some misperceptions. LINK

Her gutless failure to attack The Note was pathetic. (And that is NOT an inside joke.)


The New York Times looks at Jerry Brown's progression from "Governor Moonbeam" to candidate for Attorney General. LINK

As Democratic voters in California get set to choose their nominee for Attorney General, the Los Angeles Times' Eric Bailey looks at the ways in which Jerry Brown and Rocky Delgadillo are "strutting their tough-guy stuff on the campaign trail." LINK

Paul Kane of Roll Call reports that "boxes are everywhere" as Tom DeLay's staff prepares for his departure from the Hill.


While Noting that the group has no position on Iraq, the Los Angeles Times' Ron Brownstein looks at Unity08 and writes: "Few analysts doubt the existence of discontent with the Democratic and Republican parties, but many are dubious that the Unity08 initiative can harvest it." LINK

The week ahead:

Tomorrow is the Super Tuesday of the 2006 primary season. Eight states are holding primaries. Most political observers will be watching the special election in CA-50 for any signs of what is to come in November. Gubernatorial primaries in California, Iowa, and Alabama will also be of some interest as will the senatorial primary in Montana and the special House election in Northern New Jersey.

President Bush takes his immigration reform plan on the road again this week. Tomorrow he heads to Artesia, NM and Laredo, TX. On Wednesday, the President will be in Omaha, NE.

President Bush's week also includes a Wednesday swearing-in of Gov. Kempthorne (R-ID) as his new Interior Secretary, a Thursday meeting with governors on the line-item veto he seeks from Congress and a meeting with the President of Chile, before heading to Camp David for the Prime Minister of Denmark's Friday arrival and a joint press availability.

The beginning of hurricane season brings testimony from Max Mayfield (of the National Hurricane Center) and DHS Secretary Chertoff on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

The first annual "Yearly Kos" convention of liberal bloggers gets underway on Thursday in Las Vegas, NV. Featured speakers include: Sen. Harry Reid, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Gov. Tom Vilsack, Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, and many more.

Former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) embarks upon his high-profile presidential toe-dipping trip this week to Iowa, Michigan, and New Hampshire on.

On Wednesday, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) delivers a speech entitled, "Human Dignity and the National Interest in Foreign Policy," at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington, DC.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) gives the commencement address at Ohio State University in Columbus, OH on Sunday and also helps raise funds for Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) while in the Buckeye State.

Rudy Giuliani headlines a Chicago, IL fundraiser for congressional candidate David McSweeney (R-IL) on Saturday.

Former Sen. John Edwards celebrates his 53rd birthday on Saturday.

Gov. Romney is expected to attend a GOP fundraising event in Scottsdale, AZ on Saturday.

Former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta leads a discussion on "How to Balance National Security and Freedom in Our Democracy" with former Sens. Tom Daschle (D-SD) and John Danforth (R-MO) tonight at 10:00 pm ET in Monterey, CA.