The Note: I Made It Through the Night



Take that, Eric Alterman: ( LINK ), and welcome to the majesty of the East Room of the White House.

The President's 8:30 pm ET press conference tonight is the sixth since he's was re-elected; the fourth prime-time event of his presidency; and the 17th full-blown presser since he became 43. [Courtesy of ABC News' can-do Crawford veteran Karen Travers.]

We expect a 10-to-12-minute statement from him on energy policy and Social Security before he opens the floor to questions and Les Kinsolving.

A decision about whether he'll get full network coverage is -- depending on where one is asking -- TBD or TBA, owing partly to the start of May sweeps.

(At stake, Dan and Nicolle, as if you care: "Sweet Home Alabama," "Primetime Live," "Survivor," "CSI," an all-new "O.C." and "The Simple Life," "Will & Grace," and "The Apprentice.")

Do some catalogue shopping or finalize your weekend plans between now and 8:30 pm ET tonight, because nothing in the papers or on cable TV matters at this point. Not even David Broder's must-read column (which 41, 42, and 43 should have a commiseration conference call about). LINK

It's all about the potential paradigm shifts that are about to occur.

Things you should look for tonight:

1. There will be a heavy dose of frission in the room as the clock strikes 8:29 pm ET -- because even in the currently changed/changing politico-media landscape, primetime is primetime.

2. The President will start slow on his opening statement, and it will be clear to the discerning viewer which topics he is really engaged on, and which are the reading of boilerplate.

3. The President will call on Ann Compton and Mark Knoller, reminding everyone watching that America has the blessing of two of the best radio reporters in the world.

4. The President will also take questions from John Dickerson and Ken Herman (for different reasons, but knowing he gets good-guy points for calling on each).

5. The President SHOULD call on, if he is smart (and he is), Olivier Knox of AFP, a Rain Man of foreign policy who remains underappreciated.

6. The President will make at least one sartorial observation about a male reporter . . . use a new nickname in public for the first time (staff or press -- it's unclear which it will be at this writing) . . . flash a self-satisfied smile that can be described as a smirk (more than once) . . . and try disarming humor if asked why everything seems to be going to H, E, double toothpicks.

7. The President will also make a reference to a book he is reading/has read . . . . make a joke about his iPod or mountain bike . . . make a wistful reference to a reporter who is NOT there (Paging Mssrs. Fournier and Lindlaw!!!).

The President will NOT mention the WHCA dinner coming up Saturday (except maybe at the very end, when he might say "see y'all Saturday"); he WILL make a rare allusion to one or both of his daughters, and he will say something nice about (or be extra cordial to) a CBS News correspondent.

8. Reporters' topics that the President's creative team will have prepared him for will include:

Poll numbers (Bush will be dismissive, and answer such questions with off-topic information.); Iraq's slip back into violence following the election (Bush will use his standard "Democracy is hard," along with an historical allusion to how long it took the colonists in America to get up and running.); Bush's weird relationship with the Saudis (Bush will talk about good progress in the Middle East and ANWR.); the economy ("The economy is strong," he will say in channeling Don Evans and marshalling the best stats.).

Also: Conservative dissent on tax caps; the federal marriage amendment; will Jews go to heaven?; if Tom DeLay is found culpable by the ethics committee, should he step aside as leader?; does he support the decision to rescind GOP-backed ethics rule changes?; did he lie to Harry Reid about not politicizing the filibuster debate?; is John Bolton an angry man?

And: Does he believe that those who oppose judges based solely on their Roe v. Wade stance are irreligious?; something about the Denver Three (and Scott McClellan's ability to see into the future).

Also: "Mr. President, if Mr. DeLay is so effective, why does your Social Security plan seem to be in a tailspin?"; and "Mr. President, you won the popular vote. You look at a county map of America and all you see is Red. Why are you having to devote months of your public time to trying to keep just one of your campaign promises?"

9. A reporter would be a hero if they got Bush on the record on: "Mr. President, if in the end, Congress passes add-on personal accounts -- a savings plan that is not funded with payroll taxes -- and put the system in complete solvency, could you claim you have reformed Social Security?" (There will be no Bush-negotiating-with-himself tonight, however.)

10. The most clever questions that the White House didn't prepare the President for (until now):

One that mentions Matt Dowd and Terri Schiavo; one about Ralph Reed, James Dobson, and the Jena Band; why Rod Paige is joining Chester Finn's think tank, and why so many states flail about NCLB; why he thinks Social Security is a greater problem than foreign energy dependence and why he hasn't spent his political capital pushing energy legislation; anything about rural poverty; has Vicente Fox crossed the line with regard to Manuel Lopez Obrador?

(There are others, but we are saving them for later!!!!)

11. Carl Cameron will ask something tough; the New York Times will ask something soft and overly intellectual; John King will ask the best question; Dick Keil will ask the longest question, and/but will make news.

12. The most telling post-press conference comments will come from: Hugh Hewitt, Fred Barnes, and Peggy Noonan.

13. Watch for: whether Bush will be in the same nicknaming, jokey, giddy mood as in the immediate post-election -- i.e., how soon and how much will he start insulting/mocking/man-flirting with the reporters when he calls on them.

14. Whether the reporters will be in the same respectful, solemn, we-are-talking-to-a-two-term-President-who-just-won-a-tough-reelection-campaign mood as they often have been since November, or whether they will be in a combative, what-is-up-with-this-imploding-second-term mode.

15. Although President Bush will NOT utter the words "The President IS relevant," the reporters in the room and the execs in the control rooms (and the people in their living rooms?) will be kickin' the tires on that one throughout.

And now, this:

Bulletins the AP: "The U.S. economy lost momentum in the opening quarter of 2005, growing at an annual rate of 3.1 percent. The slowest pace of expansion in two years, amid soaring gasoline prices and rising interest rates, offered new evidence the economy has hit a soft patch. The latest reading on gross domestic product, released by the Commerce Department on Thursday, showed that consumers and businesses turned cautious in their spending in the January-to-March quarter, a key factor in the slower economic growth. High energy prices and rising borrowing costs are causing Americans to tighten their belts a bit."

The presidential news conference has spurred Democrats to up the volume on their bracketing today. Sens. Reid, Schumer, Stabenow and others will hold a news conference at 11:45 am at the Jefferson Memorial to call on the GOP to "protect checks and balances in government" and accuse the GOP of refusing to compromise on the filibuster fight. Later, Sen. Barack Obama and Reid will speak on the Senate floor followed by a pen and pad.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has a news conference at 10:45 am ET.

James Dever and Robert Conrad, both nominated to be district court judges in North Carolina, are expected to be confirmed by the full Senate today, and Democrats will use that event, if it happens, to make the case that they're not obstructing the President's nominees. Meanwhile, the Judiciary Committee holds an executive session to consider the Terrence Boyle, William Pryor, and Brett Cavanaugh nominations, as well as to consider mark-ups to the latest version of the asbestos trust fund legislation.

The Senate officially convenes at 9:30 am ET for yet more debate on the highway bill. The House is in session at 10:00 am ET.

At 11:00 am ET, Sens. Luger and Dodd, Reps. Pence and Boucher will hold a news conference calling for the quick passage of their Free Flow of Information Act, a media shield law.

At 12:30 pm ET, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) is the National Press Club luncheon speaker today. The topic: "America's Competitive Position in the World."

President Bush meets at 11:25 am ET with the President of Panama. Mrs. Bush has Helping America's Youth events in Alameda and Portland. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt speaks at the University of Missouri in Kansas City today.

The Republican Party's state chair meeting kicks off today at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Cleveland, as the Plain Dealer curtain raises. LINK

(Will anyone take Kris Warner aside? LINK )

John Edwards speaks tonight at the National Conference of Black Mayors dinner in Columbus.

One calendar event for y'all tomorrow: White House Counsel Harriet Miers speaks to the DC chapter of the Federalist Society at Tony Cheng's around noon.

The presidential news conference:

Sig Rogich, Don Fierce, and all Bushies who read The Note: we invite your responses to the tone and tenor of today's coverage, because we looked hard to find an article suggesting the Bush Administration is operating smoothly and smartly (which is not to say it isn't . . . ).

Bloomberg's Richard Keil leads thusly: "President George W. Bush closes out the first 100 days of his second term this weekend with his ambitious agenda weighted down by political diversions and by public and partisan opposition to his signature issue."

His "to be sure" graph: "To be sure, Bush has been able to score victories in Congress, which came out of the November elections with a wider Republican majority."

Howard Fineman, writing refreshingly in a non-zero-sum frame of mind, suggests that the Bush agenda is "losing momentum in a serious and permanent way." LINK

"Yes, Bush has been down politically before, and recovered smartly. He's a fighter, and has the ability to ignore the gloom and doom around him. Yes, the Democrats don't have much of an answer to him other than to shout 'no' on a host of issues. Still, despite Republican control of virtually every lever of power in Washington -- in a way because of that very fact -- Bush finds himself playing defense."

"Maybe Karl Rove is right that sweeping reform is the route to a permanent majority of a GOP-led 'ownership society' of shareholders. But, in the short run, Bush's Social Security crusade has bought him nothing but trouble, and diverted his attention from other problems."

"To this Monday morning quarterback, it's obvious that energy would have been a better play -- and a bold, sweeping plan to cut American dependence on foreign oil is the kind of Nixon-goes-to-China move that Bush could have pulled off."

"Bush's other problem is his Blue-Red approach to politics. The Dems are only too happy these days to embrace it, willingly locked in a sense of victimhood and minority status. The Dems self-isolation would work for Bush -- but only if he could keep all of his Republican colleagues in line. But he can't. Bush remains very popular among Republican voters -- Reagan-like in that respect -- but GOP members of Congress grow less worried by the day about crossing him. They have their own reelections to worry about. Privately, they are worried."

"One other factor. Privately, many members of Congress think the White House has long acted in an imperious and dismissive way towards them."

(Howard Fineman has taken better advantage of the freedom of the Internet than any political journalist we know.)

Deb Orin writes that "maybe strategic confusion" is why Bush is off his game. LINK

"'The Democrats are being totally obstructionist and we're on defense, which puts you in a position of weakness. The administration just isn't engaging with the Democrats or going after them,' said a savvy GOP insider."

"I don't think there's an appetite for that right now -- but eventually, it becomes a necessity."

President Bush's ambitious second-term agenda, designed to outline more priorities and accomplishments for the Administration, has overreached -- on the judiciary and Social Security in particular -- and is paying the price for it, writes David Broder in the column we referenced above. LINK

"The fact that Bush is losing -- and losing badly -- on the issue to which he has devoted more time and effort than any other has had a negative effect on his overall standing and his political influence."

Ethics: old is new:

The Los Angeles Times' Mary Curtius wraps the House vote to repeal the ethics rules enacted in January that have stymied the ethics committee and now opens the door to investigating House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's travel and campaign activities. LINK

But not necessarily without consequence. " . . . the tenor of comments on and off the House floor Wednesday made it clear that the dispute had left its mark on a chamber already riven by harsh partisan politics."

"Some members said they feared that once the committee was revived, it could find itself dealing with an ethics war -- with each party filing charges against opposing members over travel and other issues."

"[House Speaker Dennis] Hastert also suggested that the media was to blame for the issue having become a distraction," Roll Call's Ben Pershing reports.

[dramatic pause]

"More to the point, the top GOP source said, a serious investigation gives House leaders an excuse to dodge reporters' questions about the matter," Tom DeFrank and James Gordon Meek write in the New York Daily News. LINK

The astute Brody Mullins reminds the world of the political calculations inherent to any discussion of congressional ethics: "The shift represents a new political calculation by House Republicans that the relentless news reports about Mr. DeLay's travels and dealing with lobbyists could hurt the party during next year's elections. Republicans hold a slim 53.3% to 46.4% majority in the House. A shift of just more than a dozen seats in the 2006 elections could move the party back into the minority after a decade-long run in charge."

"The restoration of the rules means that if the committee deadlocks, complaints could be automatically sent to a special investigatory subcommittee, though that trigger has not been needed in the past. The panel has no prohibition on a lawyer's representing multiple clients, though some panel members believe one is needed and discourage the practice," writes the New York Times' Carl Hulse. LINK

"Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the Ohio Democrat who sits on the House ethics committee, has provided a sworn statement and canceled checks as proof that a trip she took to Puerto Rico wasn't improperly paid for by a lobbyist, as her official paperwork initially stated. The June 2001 trip was actually paid for by Todo Puerto Rico con Vieques (TPRV), a group formed to protest the U.S. Navy's bombing range in Vieques, according to the sworn statement by group representatives," the Washington Times reports. LINK

Ethics: Leader DeLay:

Reps. Feeney and Sweeney are coordinating Rep. Tom DeLay's defense at the caucus level, The Hill reports. LINK

Now that the congressional probe is likely, DeLay is in real danger of being found in violation of ethics rules, the Washington Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum writes, and it could come down to whether he can successfully convince the panel that he didn't know what the lobbyists did. LINK

"History shows, however, that once an ethics investigation is started against congressional leaders such as DeLay, they usually don't get away unscathed. The ethics committee already admonished DeLay three times last year for a variety of lapses. The panel can also look into other issues that come up during its investigation. . . . . This time DeLay could be admonished, censured or, at worst, expelled by a House vote -- if the chamber takes any action at all."

The New York Times' Anne Kornblut Notes -- unoriginally -- that many of DeLay's congressional defenders have given his campaign and defense fund moolah. LINK

Sometimes a Cuban is just a Cuban. LINK As in a cigar. In the mouth of Tom DeLay. has the story.

Our favorite paragraph from The New Republic's Michael Crowley on Jack Abramoff in Sunday's New York Times Magazine:

"Abramoff's old friends, including DeLay, were often the beneficiaries of Coushatta money. For instance, the tribe sent $20,000 to one DeLay political committee and $10,000 to Texans for a Republican Majority, a DeLay-run state political committee whose activities are now under investigation. Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform received $25,000 from the tribe to co-sponsor an antitax event at the White House attended by the president himself. Coushatta money also went to Ralph Reed's Atlanta-based political consulting firm. That firm took more than $4 million from Abramoff to rally religious opposition to a casino Abramoff was trying to shut down on the Coushatta's behalf. (Reed, who is running for lieutenant governor of Georgia, has insisted he was 'deceived' by Abramoff. Others on the Christian right aren't so sure. 'I think it's a hard sell that he didn't know any of this,' says Paul Weyrich, a dean of Washington social conservatives.)"

Big casino budget politics:

Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon is hesitant about signing on to a compromise that would allow passage of a budget resolution that trims the growth of Medicaid; it still will be brought to the floor, Bob Stevenson tells the New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg, but ultimate passage appears uncertain. LINK

Filibuster showdown:

The Washington Post's Chuck Babington writes that the vote on changing filibuster rules on judicial nominations hangs in the balance of two or three Republican Senators who haven't yet publicly declared what they're going to do, and is, among other things, a test of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's arm-twisting ability. Note that Sen. Lott predicts it'll come down to Vice President Cheney's tie-breaking vote, and that the support will be there because of Frist's "restraint." And the pressure remains on Sens. Hagel, Specter, and Warner. LINK

John Harris of the Washington Post was at former Vice President Gore's speech yesterday condemning the filibuster fight and accusing Republicans of using and abusing "absolute power." Gore also got particularly indignant about the influence of conservative religious leaders in the GOP, saying that "right-wing religious zealotry is a throwback to the intolerance that led to the creation of America in the first place." Harris also throws in a little bit of nice backstage color, Noting that Gore sought the opportunity to speak and consulted with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid before working on his remarks Tuesday. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Maura Reynolds has the angry response from Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. LINK

"'Al Gore and some of the Democratic senators made this debate about religion; we didn't,' he said in a written statement. 'Unfortunately, it is clear from Al Gore's comments that he is the one that wants to exclude people from the public square based upon some religious litmus test. All Americans have a voice in our system of government. We are supporting the American way -- discuss, debate and decide, not flip-flop and filibuster.'"


"Republican lawmakers are considering bringing John Bolton's nomination as United Nations ambassador to a full Senate vote whether or not the Foreign Relations Committee approves him -- another sign of White House determination to fight for the controversial nominee," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Mr. Bolton could be an unintended beneficiary of the broader fight in the Senate over the appointment of federal judges. Showdown votes are coming on controversial Bush picks for the appellate court as well as an effort to change rules to prevent Democrats from filibustering judicial nominees. Some moderate Democrats from conservative states, who are under great pressure to side with their party on those votes, may not want to arouse conservatives back home by going against the administration on Mr. Bolton as well."

"Another possibility would be that Chairman Richard Lugar of Indiana could send the nomination back to President Bush. He would refer it to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who could put the matter directly on the Senate calendar and skip the committee altogether."

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-IN) predicted yesterday that John Bolton will be confirmed to be ambassador to the U.N., the Washington Post's Dafna Linzer reports. Meanwhile, White House spokesman Scott McClellan came out with a variation on the "if you're not with us you're against us" theme on the nomination, and Bolton was doing some PR on the Hill on Tuesday, Linzer writes. Note well: "President Bush and Senate Republicans indicated they are considering a showdown vote on the Senate floor even if the foreign relations panel does not endorse Bolton." To be interviewed next week: senior intelligence officials. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's editorial board says the "the real motives [behind opposition to Boston] are a combination of ideological animus and bureaucratic score-settling"

"The reason the administration nominated Bolton is that his method of operating -- the exaggeration, the bullying -- was commonplace. It was the music by which the Bush administration marched us all to war. More specifically, it was the tune played by Cheney, Bolton's chief champion," writes Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen. LINK

The Congress:

The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act passed the House last night and goes to the Senate, where advocates for the anti-abortion law fear it will be bottled up, even with the newly amplified Republican majority.

The Washington Post's dashing Tom Edsall reports that the Senate rules committee yesterday signed off on a measure to keep 527 groups from using unlimited contributions to put political ads on the air, freaking out advocacy groups on both sides and prompting Senate Democrats to call the bill, which could go to the Senate floor next month, a "Trojan horse" to benefit Republicans. LINK

Rep. Clay Shaw wants the FEC to oversee 527s, Roll Call reports.

Roll Call's Suzanne Nelson also has details about the measures heard by a House committee last week.

Roll Call's Erin Billings reports that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi scheduled private meetings with House Democratic moderates on Wednesday in an effort to keep the caucus together.

Roll Call's Mark Preston looks at the requests by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) urging their party leadership to require nominees for president and vice president to name successors - just to make sure that a clear line is set. They petitioned the RNC's Ken Mehlman and the DNC's Howard Dean after presenting their bipartisan bill to change the law governing succession.

Bush agenda:

The New York Times' Sam Dillon writes about Margaret Spellings' tough, "fun, strategic, and savvy" White House-marinated political style, but after reading his article, we don't see too much that anyone would object to. So we, too, are "mystified" by the blind quote from a Washington lobbyist who says that Spellings "terrified" him. The conclusion: Spellings argues passionately for a bill the President passionately believes in. And she listens. And doesn't like to BS. And demonstrates, at times, flexibility. And believes, like the President, that the soft bigotry of low expectations is a real phenomenon worth commenting on. LINK

In a follow-up to previous reporting, the New York Times' Eric Schmitt Notes today that "the Army is preparing to issue a new interrogations manual that expressly bars the harsh techniques disclosed in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, and incorporates safeguards devised to prevent such misconduct at military prison camps in the future, Army officials said Wednesday. The new manual, the first revision in 13 years, will specifically prohibit practices like stripping prisoners, keeping them in stressful positions for a long time, imposing dietary restrictions, employing police dogs to intimidate prisoners and using sleep deprivation as a tool to get them to talk, the officials said. Those practices were not included in the manual in use when the bulk of the abuses occurred at Abu Ghraib in Iraq in the fall of 2003, but neither were they specifically banned." LINK

The Washington Post's Justin Blum and Jim VandeHei report that industry analysts weren't as enthralled with President Bush's energy proposals yesterday as he might have liked, and said the ideas wouldn't have much effect on gas prices. LINK

The Chicago Tribune's William Neikirk talked with (even) more skeptical experts. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Warren Vieth and Ed Chen write that the proposals could gain some momentum if they generate public pressure to pass the energy bill. LINK

Richard Simon of the Los Angeles Times looks at the battle between the federal government and states over liquefied natural gas terminals, Noting that "A provision similar to the one the president endorsed Wednesday is already moving through Congress. It is opposed by the administrations of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in California and Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother, in Florida. The two governors fear it would weaken the states' ability to respond to safety and environmental concerns over the terminals." LINK

USA Today's Thomas Frank and Alan Levin have details of the false alarm that sent President Bush to the White House bunker and Vice President Cheney to an undisclosed location on Wednesday. LINK

2008: Republicans:

In today's Sioux City Journal, David Dreeszen hones in on Senator/Doctor/Leader Frist's remarks at a Siouxlander (IA) leaders dinner Wednesday evening in the capital city (D.C., not Des Moines). LINK

Speaking as much from his experience as a physician as from his current position, Dr. Frist announced that health care is at the tip-top of the Senate's laundry list of items due for revitalization during the 109th term. The discussion later evolved to include the increasingly unwieldy medical malpractice suits.

Dr. Ralph Reeder (not to be confused with Mr. Ralph Reed!!), a Siouxland neurosurgeon, told Frist he recently returned from a national conference where he found a lot of discouragement among his colleagues on the issue of "malpractice insurance." Reeder also stole the spotlight momentarily to highlight Iowa's status as the lowest in the nation for per capita Medicare reimbursements.

With the possible dual title of Dr./Mr. President again conceivable in 2008, a non-so-subtle utterance was made during his introduction. "He hasn't said whether he's going to run for president, but don't be surprised if you see him in Iowa a lot over the next few years," chaffed Iowa's own Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Noelle Straub of the Boston Herald looks at the amount of PAC money Gov. Mitt Romney has raised outside Massachusetts in the last few years, total contributions in Iowa as well as four other states were roughly $300,000. LINK

Darn it, Kieran, we are tired of switching Gov. Pataki between our 2006 and 2008 section, so please help the man make up his mind.

This weekend, Pataki heads to California to address a center-right GOP group as part of its 2008 contender series and throws in a fundraiser or two. LINK

2008: Democrats:

Sen. Joseph Biden will speak at the Florida Democratic Party's Jefferson Jackson dinner on June 11 in Hollywood, FL.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's AIPAC conference role gets Daily News ink. LINK

And Bill Richardson gets Bolton ink. LINK


USA Today's Martha Moore and William Welch explore the intriguing possibility of a Weld gubernatorial bid in 2006, Noting the long tradition of New York being open to, even adopting, politicians who've been successful elsewhere. LINK

Joyce Purnick Notes that carpetbagging candidates have long histories in New York, but carpetbagging winners (with HRC a major exception) do not. LINK

Former congressman and NAACP president Kweisi Mfume, a Democratic candidate for Senate in Maryland, is facing allegations in a confidential NAACP report that he gave raises and promotions to women with whom he had close personal friendships, the Washington Post's Matthew Mosk and Cheryl Thompson report on the front page. LINK

Former Rep. Bob McEwen is throwing in to succeed the man who beat him 12 years ago -- Rep. Rob Portman (R-OH), Roll Call reports.

Dino Rossi will not challenge Sen. Maria Cantwell in Washington State. LINK


Antonio Villaraigosa finds himself on the defensive over $31,000 in campaign donations from workers at a Florida-based company, after having gone after incumbent Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn for accepting contributions that were questionable, the Los Angeles Times' Richard Fausset and Jennifer Oldham report. LINK

The New York Times' Leslie Kaufman has a balanced and interesting look at Mayor Mike and his approach to the city's homeless problem. LINK

While Jim Rutenberg Notes that Bloomberg really, really "The Tonight Show" back in NYC. LINK

More poll woes for Freddy Ferrer; he's tied with Virginia Fields per Marist. LINK


Reports the Toledo Blade: "Federal authorities said yesterday they are investigating local businessman and prominent Republican fund-raiser Tom Noe for possible violations of campaign contribution laws. Gregory A. White, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, confirmed that his office, in conjunction with the FBI, is looking into Mr. Noe, who was chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign in northwest Ohio." LINK

Jill Stewart's Wall Street Journal op-ed on Ted Hayes and black Republicans is worth a full read. Let's just call Novak a source-greaser when he writes one. LINK

A Bill Clinton $1 coin? It could happen, writes USA Today's Jennifer Brooks. LINK

Apparently it's not just King County, WA that had trouble counting votes -- Pierce County did too. LINK


Legislation to implement capital punishment in Iowa died yesterday at the hands of state Democrats. Thought likely to have been smote down by Gov. Vilsack if enduring through to Senate passage, some policy-makers reasoned that it would have been a negligent misuse of time to prolong debate on such a dissent-inducing subject. "Iowa is one of 12 states that do not have capital punishment. Vilsack, a Democrat, argues that the death penalty is not necessary because those convicted of first-degree murder already are sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole." LINK

The Denver Three:

Scott McClellan yesterday on the Denver Three:

"Now, in terms of this issue, my understanding is a volunteer was concerned that these three individuals were coming to the event solely for the purpose of disrupting it. And if people are coming to the event to disrupt it, they are going to be asked to leave. There are always protest areas set up outside the events where people can express their views. These three individuals acknowledged that they were coming to the event to disrupt it. They stated that publicly in some of the initial reports. And so my understanding is the volunteer was concerned about these individuals, and that's why he asked them to leave."

"Q Does the White House have any role in telling volunteers at these events, screen people that you think might be disruptive?"

"MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know if I'd view it that way. If we think people are coming to the event to disrupt it, obviously, they're going to be asked to leave. And if they do disrupt it, they will be asked to leave, as well. There's plenty of opportunity for people to express their views outside the event. That's why areas are set up for that sole purpose.

But again, these three individuals acknowledged that they were coming to the event to disrupt it. And in terms of who this individual was, I don't think that really serves any purpose to get into that publicly, other than to help advance the political agenda of these three individuals."

Responds Denver Three attorney Greg Miller:

""The White House Press Secretary has an obligation to state truthful and accurate information, and at his Wednesday press briefing Scott McClellan ran afoul of this obligation. His assertions at the press briefing are directly disputed by the Secret Service. McClellan's assertion that a mere 'volunteer' was responsible for forcibly removing my clients from the president's March 21 event misleads the public about the person's actual authority. The Secret Service has confirmed that it was not a mere volunteer, but an official 'host committee staff person.' More egregious, McClellan told White House reporters false information when addressing the staffer's rationale for forcibly removing my clients. McClellan said, "my understanding is a volunteer was concerned that these three individuals were coming to the event solely for the purpose of disrupting it…my understanding is the volunteer was concerned about these individuals, and that's why he asked them to leave."

"McClellan's statement is wrong, and the White House knows it. The Secret Service confirmed, after speaking with the mystery man in question, that the staffer removed my clients solely because of the bumper sticker on their car. This has been reported in the Washington Post and local Denver media, and has been confirmed to us directly."

Free Matt Cooper and Judith Miller:

: The Washington Post's Carol Leonnig reports that Time magazine's Matt Cooper and the New York Times' Judith Miller remain free while they appeal their case to the Supreme Court. LINK

And yesterday's New York Observer reported on some important stuff in the case, including some changes in Cooper's legal team. LINK

Schwarzenegger era:

Robert Salladay of the Los Angeles Times writes that Gov. Schwarzenegger on Wednesday backed away from his demand that the legislature re-draw state legislative and congressional districts by next year. The speculation now is whether this fall's special election on his government overhaul plans will go forth. LINK

George Skelton sees a skid for the Governator, Noting new poll numbers by the Public Policy Institute of California that show his approval rating at 40 percent, and disapproval at 50 percent. Schwarzenegger's fight with teachers' unions, and their ads criticizing him, have had a direct effect, Skelton writes. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Peter Nicholas and Jean Merl report that former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, frustrated over his inability to have more control over shaping California's schools policy as state secretary of education, is stepping down on June 30. LINK