The Note: Courage Mounteth with Occasion

Sophomore slump? USA Today's Susan Page writes up the new USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll, which suggests President Bush's approval rating up to 48 percent, but support for his Social Security overhaul plans falling.

Thirty-seven percent of Americans say it's important for Congress to deal with it this year, down from 41 percent in February, and a majority for the first time say they oppose private accounts. LINK

Fifty percent say the Administration misled the American public on the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and 58 percent say they're facing hardship because of high gas prices. In addition, the fallout from the Terri Schiavo case hurt -- 42 percent of conservatives said they disapprove of how the President handled the situation, and 66 percent say they disapprove of Congress' intervention.

Page has more on the doubts cast on the GOP's moral agenda by the Schiavo case. LINK

Poll results: LINK

An unidentified Wall Street Journal reporter writes that "Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah is expected to meet with President Bush at his Texas ranch later this month to discuss a range of issues that likely will include high energy prices and the global war against terrorism."

Per the New York Times' Douglas Jehl: "The White House is maintaining extraordinary restrictions on information about the detention of high-level terror suspects, permitting only a small number of members of Congress to be briefed on how and where the prisoners are being held and interrogated, senior government officials say." LINK

Connecticut Attorney General and perennial Democratic higher-office hopeful Dick Blumenthal says his state will sue the government over No Child Left Behind. LINK

"Legal scholars said that previous lawsuits brought against the federal government over so-called unfunded mandates had had mixed success. But Connecticut's suit could gain traction because the No Child Left Behind law includes a passage, sponsored by Republicans during the Clinton administration, that forbids federal officials to require states to spend their own money to carry out the federal policies outlined in the law."

Who'll be the first GOP governor to do the same thing, we wonder?

Sen. Lincoln Chafee's office has received more than 500 calls from constituents opposed to the nomination of John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. In the past, an aide says, Chafee ''has voted mostly with the people of Rhode Island's interests in mind . . . " LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Richard Schmitt writes that in his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday urging renewal of the USA Patriot Act, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales used "unusually strong language" in defending the Bush Administration's use of the law, saying that any efforts to take it apart would be like "unilateral disarmament" in the war on terror. LINK

FBI Director Robert Mueller argued in favor of giving the bureau more authority to issue administrative subpoenas in terrorism cases. Gonzales also agreed to meet privately with the American Civil Liberties Union to discuss the law. And now the fight over all this begins -- the House starts its hearings today, and Sen. Specter has scheduled a second Judiciary Committee hearing for May 10.

The Washington Post's Dan Eggen plays it more low-key. LINK

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