THE NOTE: Trading Places

"President Bush plans to use the next two weeks to defuse fights with Congress over the economy, laying the groundwork for a 2008 strategy aimed at assisting GOP candidates early on and improving his image at home and overseas," Politico's Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei write.

Karl Rove, prepping that book proposal like a pro, "predicts peril for Republicans and their presidential nominee if they shun the lame-duck president on the campaign trail," Joseph Curl writes in the Washington Times. Says Rove: "Nobody can risk looking disrespectful to the president without paying a price, and they need to understand that."

Bloomberg's Brian Faler finds one way Democrats are exerting their influence over the president (but beware those pesky signing statements).

"Democrats, writing the budget for the first time since Bush took office, are using their power over the purse to thwart Bush's campaign to loosen federal regulations," Faler writes.

"Lawmakers have added fine print to must-pass appropriations bills that sets new policy goals and increases funding for regulators such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission."

Rep. Ron Paul's wacky ride continues on Tuesday with the women of ABC's "The View." "It's unlikely that the Texas OB-Gyn has ever himself seen The View. He doesn't watch much TV and says he has never watched a reality TV show," ABC's Z. Byron Wolf writes. "Paul is more knowledgeable about the Austrian School of Economics and why the United Sates Treasury should not be printing money, odd topics about which to crow on 'The View.' "

Since we all forget occasionally that campaigns are about people (and in the spirit of tip-less waitresses), The Boston Globe has an interesting look at the ordinary voters who have seen their stories adopted by the candidates (and they don't always support the candidates who cite them).

The kicker:

"In third grade, I wanted to be two things: I wanted to be a cowboy, and I wanted to be Superman." -- Edwards, putting his own oppo research out there.

"I will eat Rudy Giuliani alive at a debate." -- Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., in a typically soft-spoken fundraising appeal.

"I want to mention again, Saddam Hussein is dead . . . Duh." -- McCain, after confusing Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden at the MTV-MySpace forum.

Bookmark The Note at http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/TheNote/story?id=3105288&page=1

Interns for the ABC News Political Unit:

The ABC News Political Unit is now seeking three full-time spring interns in Washington, D.C.

The internship begins Monday, Dec. 31, and runs through Friday, May 25.

Not only do Political Unit interns attend political events and write for the politics page of ABCNews.com, they also help us by conducting research, maintaining contact lists, and building the next day's political schedule.

In order to apply, you must be either a graduate student or a college student who has completed his or her first year.

You also must be able to work eight hours per day, starting early, Monday through Friday.

Interns will be paid $8.50/hour.

If you write well, don't mind getting up early, and have some familiarity with web publishing, send a cover letter and resume to teddy.davis@abc.com as soon as possible, with the subject line: "INTERN" in all caps. Please indicate in your cover letter the dates of your availability.

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