The Note: Everywhere You Want to Be

"According to another, Card called back and said both Clinton and the senior Bush were going and Carter could be the fifth member. If he did not want to go, Card said, Rice was interested. In this variation, Carter felt that was a strong enough delegation without him and agreed to let Rice go in his place."

Social Security:

"Zesty" David Espo brings a semi-scoop to the wire:

Republican leaders in the Senate are mulling over whether to take personal accounts off the table while soliciting Democratic support for the President's Social Security plan, hoping to bring them back later -- and risk infuriating the White House, he reports. LINK

Economy:

The Los Angeles Times' Jonathan Peterson takes a closer look at California's gas prices, which hit a new record of $2.554 a gallon on Thursday, and how they're expected to remain in that vicinity through 2006. LINK

USA Today's James Healey writes that the nationwide average for unleaded regular gas will peak next month at $2.35 and will be $2.28 for the summer driving peak, according to the Energy Information Administration. But that's not expected to put drivers off. LINK

The last few paragraphs of the New York Times' Stevenson/Wald write-up on gas prices are worth reading in full.

"'This is not just an economic problem,' said Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster. 'It is also, in the public judgment, a national security problem. There is a widespread belief in the country that the problem could be solved or a real dent made in it, but that this administration, because it is tied to big oil, is unwilling to take the steps necessary to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.'" LINK

"Administration officials said they were assuming that the surge in prices would help put pressure on Congress to pass Mr. Bush's energy plan. Already, Republicans in the Senate have shown for the first time that they have the votes to include in that bill the authorization for drilling in a section of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge."

"The rise in oil and gasoline prices could also provide another reason for the nation to embrace Mr. Bush's call for the spread of democracy in the Middle East, a source of nearly 20 percent of the nation's oil. A more stable, democratic Middle East would presumably reduce concerns about interruptions in the flow of oil. For now, though, the first signs that the seeds of democracy are germinating in the region are being accompanied not by lower crude oil prices but by near-record highs. And Democrats say they intend to use gasoline prices to reopen issues they have previously invoked to hold up the Bush energy bill, among them their call for an increase in fuel economy standards."

Page A2 of the Wall Street Journal has a must-read about inflation forecasts creeping up, with some expecting prices to rise 2.5 percent this year. On the same page, Brody Mullins picks up the Hill rag reports about deal-making between John Kyl and Chuck Schumer over the estate tax.

Bush agenda:

The latest AP-Ipsos poll shows Bush's job approval at 44 percent, with 54 percent disapproving. Only 37 percent have a favorable opinion of the work being done by the Republican-controlled Congress. LINK

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