THE NOTE: Oprah, Bill Face Off

The Daily News' Celeste Katz and David Saltonstall track down a Giuliani volunteer who showed up at two Rudy events in New Hampshire over the weekend -- and mysteriously got called on first both times, asking head-scratchers including: "What makes the liberal Democrats so wrong about the threats this country faces?"

"The puffy questions -- seemingly lifted straight from Giuliani's campaign playbook -- had many wondering if [Richard] Florino was a plant intended to make Giuliani look good," Katz and Saltonstall write.

"But Florino insisted to reporters that he was nobody's stooge -- just the volunteer co-chairman of Giuliani's town committee in Windham, N.H." Says Florino: "This isn't one of those Hillary events -- no. . . . Basically, I love politics, and he sees me as a familiar face."

Giuliani, R-N.Y., is still convinced that Democrats will come around and wind up supporting the Iraq war before the campaign is over. In fact, he told the Union Leader editorial board, he's "even more certain" now that invading Iraq was the right move than he was four years ago. (Seriously?)

And Rudy weighs in on the hottest issue in the GOP race: "Giuliani said that despite allegations to the contrary, he has always been tough on illegal immigration," John DiStaso writes. "As mayor, he said, he wanted to deport illegal alien criminals, but the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service opted for 'gardeners' and restaurant workers as part of a 'totally messed-up priority.' " (Romney would love to hit back, but that "gardeners" line makes it kind of tough. . . . )

Romney, R-Mass., did keep his battle with Giuliani going on Monday. "I think it's going to be very, very difficult for people to think of Mayor Giuliani representing the Republican Party," Romney told radio host Laura Ingraham. "He's the same as Hillary Clinton on most of those social issues." (There's the H-word again! Who says Romney doesn't swear?)

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall for Bush v. Gore II: The Private Meeting.

"Of course we talked about global warming -- the whole time," the former vice president said after his 40-minute private session with his one-time (and, kind of, still) rival.

Al and Tipper "left on foot and found themselves in the midst of a pack of reporters and photographers as they walked, hand in hand, along Pennsylvania Avenue," James Gerstenzang writes in the Los Angeles Times. "They cut across rush-hour traffic at midblock before ducking into an office building on 17th Street, a block and a half from the executive mansion." (Jaywalking, Mr. Vice President?)

A joint goodbye to two legislative titans -- one day, two resignation announcements, one from a former House speaker, the other from a former Senate majority leader. J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., left the House effective 11 pm ET last night, and Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., is set to follow him out the door in the coming weeks.

Those particular resignations are unlikely to alter the party balance in Congress.

"But with so many lawmakers -- including a large number from competitive states and districts -- heading for the exits, it's hard not to point to the GOP's newfound minority status in Washington, the turnover in party leadership and the perilous political environment heading into 2008 to explain the exodus," Washingtonpost.com's Chris Cillizza writes.

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