The Note: McCain vs. McCain

Surely Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., wants to pass an immigration bill; he's in too deep to walk away now. But he didn't do his bill any favors by launching a (quite premeditated) attack on former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass., a prominent critic of McCain's immigration plan.

"Maybe his solution will be to get out his small-varmint gun and drive those Guatemalans off his lawn," McCain said yesterday. It was a great sound bite, a made-for-the-blogosphere line that highlights several Romney vulnerabilities, even if it does point to McCain's famously short fuse. But with the sweeping immigration measure already under attack from all sides, the last thing it needed was presidential mud-flinging.

The Republican presidential candidates are divided on the immigration bill, the Democrats cautiously lukewarm. Congress, while not quite stuck (yet), is responding to powerful interests on the left and the right who want the bill defeated. Scores of amendments are being filed with the real intention of killing the bill, not strengthening it. And yesterday's decision to extend the debate beyond the Memorial Day break "will allow opposition to gather strength before a final vote," Jonathan Weisman writes in The Washington Post. LINK

The McCain-Romney spat is unlikely to help. Romney may be OK with that, since he wants the bill to die anyway, but McCain shouldn't be. Where's the political upside in taking a controversial stand and having nothing to show for your efforts? Already, McCain's intensity on this issue is catching him heat: The Los Angeles Times' Ralph Vartabedian and Michael Finnegan write up McCain's "shouting match" with bill opponent Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to ask "whether McCain's legendary temper is becoming a liability to his campaign for the presidency." (McCain's words this time were choicer -- worthy, McCain might even argue, of a "drunken sailor.") LINK

The fight comes at a good moment for Romney, who is riding high from recent polls and probably doesn't mind more attention being paid to his immigration position, even if it hasn't been all that consistent over the years. Jill Zuckman of the Chicago Tribune writes that "all is going according to plan" for the former governor -- and scored an interview with the candidate at Fenway Park, where he rapped the Bush administration for its Iraq war missteps. LINK

With the Democratic field still tearing itself up over the war, Al Gore is grabbing headlines for another day as he makes the rounds touting his latest book. The former vice president is saying he's not running while still not entirely ruling out a run -- and sure seems to be enjoying the attention. ABC's Jake Tapper reads Gore's book as "so nakedly political and sharply critical it's hard to discern what his plans may be." "Gore sheds his inner Marshall McLuhan for his inner Michael Moore," Tapper writes. LINK

Also today:

The price for a speech about poverty? Former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., raked in $55,000 for his appearance last year at the University of California at Davis, a publicly funded school where tuition is going up 7 percent this year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's political blog. His topic: "Poverty, the great moral issue facing America." Former president Bill Clinton got nearly twice as much for a 2002 speech at UC Davis, but Edwards can't shake free of this do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do narrative. LINK

The New York Sun's Josh Gerstein finds a $3 million link between the Clintons and the head of infoUSA Inc. -- the company identified in Sunday's New York Times as aiding scam artists who target the elderly. The company's chairman and CEO, Vinod Gupta, has been "one of the most generous benefactors to causes affiliated" with the former president and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., Gerstein writes. LINK

Will Rudolph Giuliani, R-N.Y., skip Iowa? The Associated Press' Mike Glover has Iowa Republicans speculating that he might, citing his "sluggish start to campaign organizing and indecision about whether to compete in a high-profile straw poll in August." LINK

Of course the campaign can't admit it plans to ignore the lead-off caucuses -- at least not yet. But The Wall Street Journal's Christopher Cooper has a Giuliani aide talking about a "return on investment formula" to determine which early-voting states to concentrate on -- a strong hint that Rudy may be staying away from corn futures. "Though Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina are important, we can put less of our chips there," the aide said. LINK

Ross Buettner of The New York Times examine Giuliani's public spat with his former emergency management director, Jerome Hauer, who "keeps surfacing to revisit . . . history in ways that are unflattering to Mr. Giuliani." Giuliani blames Hauer for wanting to put the city's emergency operations center in the World Trade Center before 9/11, but Hauer sees it another way. "That's Rudy's own reality that he lives in," he said. "It is not, in fact, the truth." LINK

Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., announced his presidential candidacy in Los Angeles, and The Washington Post's Anne Kornblut has him running a campaign that will pay particular attention to Nevada -- the early-voting state with the biggest Hispanic population. A fun nugget from the always-colorful governor: "At one point, when asked a question about his heritage, Richardson offered to answer in English or Spanish -- then shifted into French." LINK

With Michelle Obama hitting the campaign trail more by the day, she was on ABC's "Good Morning America" this morning, where she brushed aside concerns that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., doesn't have the experience to be president. "This [is a] rare opportunity where spirit, vision, hope, uniqueness, experience combine in this one individual at this point in time," she said. "It's his time." LINK

The kicker:

"It is this kind of political theater that has caused the American people to lose confidence in how Washington operates," President Bush, attacking Democrats' plan to have a no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The president has refused to comment on Gonzales' star turn in the political thriller described in Senate testimony last week.

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I'm moderating a panel discussion on the politics of global warming at 10 am ET today in Washington, as part of ABC News' joint project with the Brookings Institution. Panelists will include policy advisers for four of the 2008 presidential candidates. LINK