The Note: Hanging on the Telephone

So much so, that we are willing to overlook the consistently pretentious English Lit 101 titles (Yeats! The Bible!); the baffling, lightning-speed transformation of Mary McCormack's character from a buttoned-up, tightly-coiffed, military drone to a slatternly, mermaid-tressed spy; and the incessant, cutesy visual reminders that the sublime Kristin Chenoweth is equally suited to play a munchkin as Galinda.

But after countless seasons and a new administration in the offing, it would be nice to catch more than 40 percent of the celebrated dialogue. Perhaps the actors are method mumblers, or the sound mixers aren't mixing properly, or the boom operators are sadists.

Right now, however, the culpability for this chronic annoyance is hovering over the heads of the old-time West Wingers -- newbie Fauxval Office hopefuls Smits and Alda seem perfectly articulate and intelligible. Something to boast about during the general.

Stem cell politics:

The Boston Globe's Scott Greenberger has all the details of the bill passed by the Massachusetts Senate promoting stem cell research -- including approving therapeutic cloning, and thereby risking a veto by Gov. Romney. LINK

The Globe's Joan Vennochi says the fight over stem cells in Massachusetts is a another cultural battle in a war called Kennedy v. Romney. LINK

The Globe's editorial board writes that Romney's ads opposing the bill "inadvertently revealed the weakness of his partial opposition to this potentially life-saving work." LINK

Romney continues to run his daily radio ad campaign. LINK

Meanwhile, the Washington Post's John Wagner writes, Democrats in the Maryland Senate are holding their bill authorizing state money to pay for stem cell research until they can muster the votes to shut down a filibuster. LINK

Big casino state budget politics:

The New York Times' Fox Butterfield takes a quick look at the big casino budget politics in states -- literally -- as gambling expands and states depend on its revenues more and more. LINK

"In Rhode Island, South Dakota, Louisiana, Oregon and, most of all, Nevada, taxes from casinos, slot machines at racetracks and lotteries make up more than 10 percent of overall revenues, according to a new report. In Delaware, West Virginia, Indiana, Iowa and Mississippi, gambling revenues are fast approaching 10 percent."

Tom Vilsack's Iowa gets props for being innovative.

The Schwarzenegger era:

On his visit to Sacramento, David Broder found surprisingly little resistance to the rationale behind Gov. Schwarzenegger's proposal to turn redistricting over to judges rather than the legislature -- and surmises that if it passes, it might be the impetus to get other states moving and actually allow moderate centers in both Congress and state legislatures. LINK

Chris Lehane calls Maria Shriver's office the go-to place for Democrats in California these days, in a profile in the New York Times of the Cali First Lady. LINK

"Early on, Ms. Shriver was widely credited with helping to persuade her husband to restore a cut in state programs for the developmentally disabled."

Be warned: lots of Hillary Rodham Clinton comparisons in the article.

The Los Angeles Times' legendary George Skelton looks at the first, official anti-Arnold candidate, state Treasurer Phil Angelides, who jumped in the race 15 months early, to raise his profile and begin the long process of chipping away at the Governator's sky-high favorables. LINK

2006:

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