The Note: Rising for Principle



There are two ways to pass the time while waiting to see how the all-consuming filibuster showdown ends.

Those ways couldn't be more obvious.

First, one can write traditional haiku poems about the drama.

Second, one can read today's political must-reads.

To paraphrase Mario Cuomo, The Note is written in prose, but conceptualized in poetry, so here are our efforts to put the events in Washington in the standard 5-7-5 (syllables) format.

'Husker Ben Nelson,

Seeking space for compromise,

Like the cat's forehead.

Senators argue,

Americans just wonder,

How "Lost" will conclude.

Frist, rising to stand.

Talking and moving at once.

Capitol blossom.

Harry Reid has learned

DC is more complex than

Searchlight, Nevada.

Sununu ogles.

The process fascinates him.

Seabrook's nuclear.

Frist will not matter

if six compadres decide

to vote with Nelson.

Susan McCue and

E. Ueland have lots of tales

To share over beer.

Thune and Clinton are

Not as odd a couple as

Warner and Specter.

Send your own filibuster haiku to us at, and let us know if you want your name printed if we choose yours for publication in Friday's edition.

As for the must-read stories, any Note reader is of course free to read 'em all (Note hint: we recommend it . . . ), but today's are done mostly as specialty recommendations:

1. For general interest Note readers who want to understand the bigger stakes in the filibuster fight, may we recommend Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times, on whether the Republicans will be hurt by the stand off (and we suggest this not just because Ron quotes the elusive Don Fierce, although that is a plus). LINK

2. For Sid Blumenthal, Jim Manley, and everyone else waiting to read about the obvious, there's Dick Stevenson's best-yet-but-still-not-there take on the White House's quietly assertive role in the 'buster battle. LINK

3. For members of the House Republican Conference who wonder what's going on below the surface while the Gang of 500 fixates on the filibuster fight (and for Rahm Emanuel, with visions of sugar plums dancing in this head), there's John Harwood in the Wall Street Journal on a new poll, the write up of which ledes thusly:

"A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that disapproval of Congress's performance is higher than it has been since 1994, the year voters swept Democrats out of power on Capitol Hill. Americans have grown gloomier about the nation's direction, the economy and Iraq, and by 65%-17% they say Congress doesn't share their priorities. LINK

4. For the President, Secretary Snow, and Phil Gramm, gander at the work of the Journal's David Wessel, right on the front page, on the possibility that the housing bubble is finally going to maybe, possibly burst. LINK

5. For the DNC staff prepping their boss, for a humor-loving Ken Melhman, and for Ralph Hallow, there's Bob Novak's treatise on Howard Dean's mouth and times. LINK

6. For those of you trying to improve your journalism skills, there's Jennifer Steinhauer's real estate story, with the sparkling lead in the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump, reality television star, fragrance entrepreneur and developer of tall buildings, revealed his answer to the problems at the World Trade Center site yesterday. That answer, perhaps unsurprising, was himself." LINK

As for the filibuster compromise talks, Roll Call's red-hot Paul Kane and John Bresnahan report that negotiating Republicans are starting to talk about the zero hour, and Democrats say they still have time, in this process that appears to be moving inch by inch, if at all, and that could come down to a snag over wording.

"At least two different draft memorandums of understanding had been circulated to interested Senators Tuesday and early Wednesday, and by late Wednesday, the group was still working on another plan that would determine which contested judicial nominees would get a confirmation vote, an aide said."

"The draft circulated Wednesday morning contained a pair of major concessions by each side. Under that four-point plan, enough Democrats would support cloture that would allow a vote on four of the seven already filibustered nominees."

"More importantly, three of the four would be nominees that Democratic leaders have labeled 'red hot' because of their views."

" . . . However, in exchange for allowing confirmation of three controversial nominees, Democrats appeared to gain more favorable language in the third point of the four-point draft plan."

"While that point includes a reference to future filibusters only under extraordinary circumstances,' it also provides what amounts to an instruction to Bush about consulting all Senators on making judicial nominations -- a major point of contention by Democrats about this White House."

" . . . The fourth point would commit each side to opposing the parliamentary move to change Senate precedents to forbid filibusters -- commonly known as the nuclear option -- for the rest of the 109th Congress."

Despite all that, we sense more fatigue and pessimism than a pending deal. We'll see.

Here's what is on the 'buster schedule today, both on the floor and off:

The Senate will convene at 9:30 am ET and will proceed to executive session to continue consideration of the nomination of Priscilla Owen to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

At some point, the negotiators will likely meet to negotiate, as negotiators do.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid joins Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Rep. Melvin Watt (D-NC), D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus to the filibuster vote, judicial nominees, and their opposition to the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown at 10:15 am ET. Reid holds another press conference on the filibuster vote at 2:30 pm ET.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Bishop Harry Jackson of College Park, MD, hold a news conference on the Bush judicial nominations at 3:00 pm ET.

Four African-American clergy members opposed to the Senate rules change, Rev. Timothy McDonald of the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA; Rev. Amos Brown of the Third Baptist Church in San Francisco, CA; and Rev. Graylan Hagler of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C., will hold a press conference at noon ET.

Elsewhere . . .

President Bush heads to Milwaukee, WI for a conversation on Social Security at the Milwaukee Art Museum at 12:15 pm ET.

First Lady Laura Bush sits down to talk about her upcoming trip to Egypt, Israel and Jordan, and her speech before the World Economic Forum, with Fox News Channel's "Special Report with Brit Hume" at 6:00 pm ET.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi holds her regular news conference at 10:45 am ET.

The fourth and final day of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) forum begins at 9:30 am ET.

The House Administration Committee marks up the 527 Fairness Act of 2005.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue hold a news conference to announce a campaign to identify the 100 best communities for young people at 1:00 pm ET.

At 11:30 am ET, Texas Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn join Senate Republican Campaign Committee Chairman George Allen (R-VA) at a news conference to announce the introduction of the District of Columbia Personal Protection Act of 2005, which repeals DC's gun ban.

The Business Executives for National Security organization hold their annual gala dinner, honoring FedEx Chairman Fred Smith, with Senate Majority Leader Sen. Bill Frist, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder and Air Force Gen. John Handy, at 7:00 pm ET.

Mark Wellstone, the son of late Sen. Paul Wellstone, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) will speak at a fundraiser for the Wellstone Memorial and Historic Site to be built in northern Minnesota. The reception begins at 6:30 pm ET. May 20-22, Camp Wellstone -- a training program sponsored by Wellstone Action and held across the country for progressive activists -- will be held at George Washington University.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani delivers the keynote at the Center of the American Experiment annual dinner in St. Paul, MN.

At 9:30 am ET, the House Government Reform Committee holds a hearing on steroid use in sports, focusing on the NBA's testing program. Testifying: Commissioner David Stern; Richard Buchanan, senior vice president and general counsel for the NBA; William Hunter, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association; Keith Jones, vice president of operations and trainer for the Houston Rockets; and former University of Maryland star Juan Dixon of the Washington Wizards.

The filibuster fight:

All reporters, respectful of the historicity of this moment, stretch to write prose that rise up to the appropriate level.

The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray and Chuck Babington write that the off-the-floor negotiating was just as intense as the on-the-floor partisan mudslinging and hyperbole, with centrists trying to make a deal over the seven pending appellate court nominees who were blocked the first time President Bush nominated them, and Democrats' position on the filibuster when it comes time to debate a Supreme Court nominee. Just how the seven pending nominees would fare is a key, as-yet unsolved, question. LINK

The duo report that Sens. Lieberman (D-CT), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR), Byrd (D-WV), Landrieu (D-LA), and Salazar (D-CO) are among those hashing things out with Sens. Snowe (R-ME), McCain (R-AZ), DeWine (R-OH), Warner (R-VA), Graham (R-SC), and Murkowski (R-AK), with Warner playing host to at least one meeting.

James Gordon Meek of the New York Daily News slips in a "well-informed GOP" blind quote. LINK

"Some Republicans at the White House and on Capitol Hill aren't sold that Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has the 50 senators needed to change the Senate's rules and end filibusters on judges."

"'That's what we keep hearing: that Frist doesn't have the votes,' said one well-informed GOP aide. 'If he doesn't have the votes, then that will force him into some sort of agreement.'"

Per the Wall Street Journal's Cummings/Rogers duo: "Centrist lawmakers still hope to defuse the issue and appear near a deal that would expedite Senate action on five previously stalled circuit-court nominees, including Ms. Owen. In turn, sufficient Republicans would help kill any attempt by Mr. Frist next week to nullify future filibusters on circuit court and Supreme Court nominees. Meetings will continue this morning, and while hopeful, negotiators are still wrangling over the nuances of language committing both sides to avoid either filibusters or rules changes in the future."

Adds the New York Times Carl Hulse: "Three officials, who would speak only without being identified because of the confidential nature of the talks, said Republican negotiators had offered to withhold their votes on the rules change but reserved their right to back it later if Democrats filibustered a nominee Republicans deemed acceptable. Democrats say the threat of the rules change must be eliminated for this session." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Maura Reynolds calls Sen. Arlen Specter "[a] rare voice of moderation." LINK

Dick Stevenson goes behind the scenes to figure out what the White House is doing in all this, but to our eyes he doesn't quite get the ambivalence felt by many Republican strategists who advise the White House on the consequences of tying up the Senate for judges. (And he doesn't get Alexander Bolton's scoop from yesterday, which, citing only Senate aides, mind you, said that the White House wanted a vote on Bolton before Frist started to bring judges to the floor.) LINK

"So far, administration and Congressional aides said, the White House has avoided any strong-arm lobbying of Republican senators to end the use of filibusters to block nominees to federal judgeships."

"Strategists at the Republican committee and the White House have discussed putting similar grass-roots pressure on some of the Republican senators who are possible defectors on the issue, but decided against it, Republicans involved in the deliberations said."

The Hill sizes up the pool of seven GOP senators from which Democrats hope to pick off three sympathetic votes against the nuclear option. LINK

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank offers some very nice color commentary on Majority Leader Frist's "kill, defeat, assassinate" rhetoric on the floor as the debate began, and the interparty back-and-forth over whose comments about the debate and the judicial nominees were more offensive. LINK

Offering a nice piece of Senate history, Jim VandeHei and Chuck Babington of the Washington Post trace the origins of the nuclear/constitutional option to Sen. Ted Stevens' anger over blocked judicial nominees in 2003, and its original moniker, "Hulk." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' David Savage turns in his profile of Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen. LINK

Progress for America is extending its ad buy in support of Owen's nomination, and PFA executive director Chris Myers will talk about the spots and the filibuster fight on a conference call today at 2:00 pm ET.


The Washington Post's Carol Leonnig recounts the dramatic testimony yesterday in favor of protecting judges by Judge Joan Lefkow, whose husband and mother were murdered. LINK

Roll Call's Mark Preston focuses on Lefkow's criticism of "some Members of Congress" for attacking federal judges' motives, saying that even though a direct cause and effect does not exist, the heated rhetoric adds to an atmosphere of disrespect that encourages those on the fringe to take revenge.

Bush agenda:

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Greg Borowski previews President Bush's Social Security push today in the city that made Schlitz famous, focusing on how younger workers are receiving his plan. LINK

"In a recent statewide poll the college conducted with Wisconsin Public Radio, only 28% of the adults who responded said they approve of Bush's handling of the issue, while 63% disapproved and 9% were not sure."

"In a rare moment of self-criticism, President Bush suggested Wednesday that the United States did not move civilian workers into Iraq quickly enough to stabilize the country after the military invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein," writes the Los Angeles Times' Peter Wallsten, who looks at the rest of Bush's speech in which he amazingly advocated nation-building. LINK

In the New York Times account of increased pessimism among top military officials in Baghdad, one senior official predicts that the American presence in Iraq could last for years. LINK


The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler takes a look at the two partisan interpretations of John Bolton that came out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's report yesterday, with Democrats accusing President Bush's nominee to the U.N. of considering asking CIA Director George Tenet to reassign an intelligence officer. Republicans argued that Bolton came out of the committee's examination better for the wear. LINK

"The Senate's Republican leaders have said they hope to hold a vote on the nomination next week, before the Memorial Day recess, and the White House and the State Department have urged quick action," writes Doug Jehl in the New York Times. LINK

"But the timing remains highly uncertain, with the Senate seeking first to resolve the bitter dispute over judicial nominees, and Democrats calling on the State Department to hand over more documents that might shed light on Mr. Bolton's conduct in another dispute, over Syria, in 2003."

The politics of national security:

Republican staffers on the Senate intelligence committee gave select reporters a background briefing on Sen. Pat Roberts' legislation updating the Patriot Act.

"But word of the proposal on Wednesday generated immediate protests from civil rights advocates, who said that it would give the F.B.I. virtually unchecked authority in terror investigations, and the plan is likely to intensify the growing debate in Congress over the balance between fighting terrorism and protecting privacy rights," writes Eric Lichtblau in the New York Times. LINK

Social Security:

The Los Angeles Times' Tom Hamburger reports that the Social Security testimony last week by Derrick Max, the head of a business organization pushing to change the system, was edited by an associate commissioner of Social Security on loan to the White House. LINK

It's a story of friendship, editing, and Trent Duffy's tenacity.

The Congress:

"A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that disapproval of Congress's performance is higher than it has been since 1994, the year voters swept Democrats out of power on Capitol Hill. Americans have grown gloomier about the nation's direction, the economy and Iraq, and by 65%-17% they say Congress doesn't share their priorities," writes John Harwood in the Wall Street Journal.

"Just 42% of Americans say their representative deserves to be re-elected, while a 45% plurality calls it time for someone new. When Americans are asked which party they want to control Congress after the 2006 elections, Democrats hold a 47%-40% edge -- the party's best showing since the Journal/NBC survey began asking that question in 1994."

"The 18 months between now and the 2006 midterms give incumbents plenty of time to affect the public mood, and Republicans can take solace in the fact that the Democratic Party's image hasn't improved. The dearth of competitive House seats and the fact that Democrats have more Senate seats at risk means the minority party on Capitol Hill needs a large and lasting shift in sentiment to have any hope of recapturing control."

Lots more in the survey; read the whole thing!

The Argus Leader, much to Sen. John Thune's . . . . dismay? delight? . . . . writes of his pairing with Sen. Hillary Clinton on veterans legislation. LINK

Leader DeLay:

The New York Times Phillip Shenon predicts that the FEC will soon release the results of an audit into DeLay's federal PAC. The good news, per Shenon, for DeLay: the audit found that the PAC did not make illegal contributions. LINK

Bloomberg analyzed FEC records and found that tribes represented by Abramoff and Scanlon gave money to a third of Congress.

The Houston Chronicle reports that at a Democratic fundraiser this week, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle called DeLay a "bully." LINK


Six down, 14 to go. The Hill's Hans Nichols reports the Republicans think they need 20 Democratic votes in favor of CAFTA and Nichols goes on to report that it appears they currently have a firm six. LINK


"The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment insurance fell 20,000 last week, the government said Thursday, more than economists had expected," Reuters reports. LINK

"Federal Reserve Board member Edward M. Gramlich said yesterday he will leave the central bank in late summer, giving President Bush two openings to fill on the powerful panel this year just months before he is to name a new chairman," reports the Washington Post's Nell Henderson. LINK

Newsweek retracts:

The New York Times' David Brooks has a must-read on the Newsweek episode. His right-wing friends, Brooks says, are silly in blaming a magazine's words for what probably is an orchestrated spasm of tension-relieving rioting propped up by Islamofacists. As for the left, Brooks wonders why some folks in that corner of the universe are so quick to blame the troops. LINK

Campaign finance:

The Washington Post's Tom Edsall reports that limits on campaign donations to parties and expenditures are in the crosshairs of congressional Republicans, much to the chagrin of Democrats who oppose the campaign finance bill co-sponsored by Reps. Mike Pence (R-IN) and Albert Wynn (D-MD). LINK

Roll Call's Suzanne Nelson has more detail on the letter from House Democratic leadership to their caucus colleagues explaining exactly why they oppose the bill, and Notes that "[d]espite the title of their bill, the Bipartisan 527 Fairness Act, it does not affect 527 organizations."

Stem cell politics:

The New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes up Majority DeLay's prediction that once Americans learn the truth about embryonic stem cell research, they'll oppose efforts to expand it and support core blood research instead. LINK

"Despite leadership's move this week, the Castle bill could still pass," boldly writes The Hill's Patrick O'Connor. LINK

And following Roll Call's Mary Ann Akers, O'Connor captures this great detail on the fallout from that New Models poll: "Tensions flared during yesterday morning's conference meeting, according to members who were there, when some conservatives condemned Castle's supporters for conducting the poll without first telling them it was being done."

"Rep. Rick Renzi (Ariz.) came close to a physical confrontation with Rep. Mark Kirk (Ill.) on Monday about the poll. Yesterday, Renzi started the exchange by saying he was upset that Republicans would poll in their colleagues districts without telling them. Kirk responded by apologizing to the conference members for not notifying them."


"Three GOP senators have offered legislation to postpone the recommended military base realignments and closures announced by the Pentagon last week."

"Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Ted Stevens (Alaska) and John Thune (S.D.) announced the legislation yesterday. Their bill would delay the shutdown process until a complete analysis is conducted on overseas facility requirements," writes The Hill's Patrick O'Connor. LINK

2008: Republicans:

Oh, how this will make for a Sunny day at Giuliani Partners. Deborah Orin's New York Post column ledes thusly: "Rudy Giuliani's 2008 presidential hopes could get a boost from the Senate's filibuster fight -- because it puts his top Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, at odds with the GOP's base." LINK

And concludes thusly: "The filibuster fallout underscores that Giuliani holds some aces with conservatives despite his support for abortion and gay rights."

The Associated Press reports, "William Cardinal Keeler will not attend a Jesuit university commencement because keynote speaker Rudolph Giuliani, a Catholic, supports abortion rights, an official said yesterday." LINK

More from the Baltimore Sun. LINK

The Rosen trial:

The New York Times' Leslie Eaton, in writing about the lavish details of the 2000 fundraiser David Rosen is accused of fudging the books for, includes this irony-laced final sentence: "But the organizers of the gala did economize in one way . . . . they decided against hiring a bigger and more expensive plane that could also have accommodated Rosa Parks, the civil rights figure. She did not attend the gala. LINK

"Bretta Nock, a hired event planner, said Clinton's former national finance director, David Rosen, also ordered her to obtain an invoice that she believed low-balled part of the cost of the event in 2000," reports the New York Post's Ken Lovett. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' David Rosenzweig calls her Gretta Nock, and has more details. LINK

The prosecution, writes chronicler Josh Gerstein, is ready to wrap its case. LINK

Los Angeles mayor's race:

A big wet kiss from all of us at The Note to all of those at the Los Angeles Times for their coverage of the mayor's race, breaking down the campaigns, the candidates, the dynamics, and now understanding just how excited the DNC is over Antonio Villaraigosa's victory.

The Los Angeles Times' Michael Finnegan and Mark Barabak take a look at the paper's exit polls, which laid out Villaraigosa's impressive coalition building among all kinds of voters, as well as the huge Latino turnout he spurred -- and 84 percent of which he won. LINK

The New York Times' John Broder also examines the contours of the Latino-black alliance that put Villaraigosa into office. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Henry Weinstein looks at the growing political power of the Latino community in the city. LINK

The Washington Post's Harold Meyerson applauds Mayor-elect Villaraigosa. "Villaraigosa's victory will not magically dispel the city's racial rifts, the ethnic gang rivalries, the fights at local high schools. It will not narrow the vast economic inequality that plagues contemporary U.S. cities, though Villaraigosa has supported linking development to living-wage jobs. But the coalition he's composed, the record he's amassed, and the charisma and energy he's so abundantly displayed now make Los Angeles ground zero for liberal innovation at a time of right-wing domination nearly everyplace else. It's a star turn that's new not just for Villaraigosa, but also for the city he has now so adeptly reassembled as a showcase for urban progressivism." LINK


Stefan Friedman's New York Post campaign column has Freddy Ferrer sounding hopeful that Antonio Villaraigosa might pay a visit to the Gotham campaign trail before all is said and done. (Note: If Ken Mehlman is actually polling for Gifford Miller much would be explained. If not, we look forward to the New York Post correction.) LINK

Mayor Bloomberg most likely much preferred today's New York Post wood to yesterday's "Latin Lover." LINK

"Black and Hispanic fourth-graders in some of the city's poorest and lowest-performing school districts posted the largest gains on standardized state reading tests this year -- narrowing the achievement gap with whites and Asians to an all-time low."

Oh wait, never mind. The Post found a way to bring back "Latin Lover" for a second day. LINK

Through the New York Daily News' Michael Saul, Ed Skyler gets into it with Bloomberg's former Spanish tutor over the quality of the mayor's accent. LINK

Maggie Haberman of the New York Daily News sees a possible connection between legislation Anthony Weiner championed on behalf of small "mom and pop" pharmacists and campaign donations from such pharmacists. LINK

And check this out, kids. According to Lloyd Grove, Lindsay Lohan may or may not appear at Gifford Miller's fundraiser in Chelsea tonight. LINK

Doug Forrester has pulled slightly ahead of Brett Schundler in the latest Quinnipiac University poll asking likely New Jersey GOP primary voters their preferences. Forrester captured 39 percent to Schundler's 33 percent. (Three weeks ago Quinnipiac had Forrester at 36 percent and Schundler at 33 percent.)

Forrester also scores well on the electability question. Forty-five percent of those polled believe Doug Forrester has the best chance of defeating Sen. Corzine in November compared to 31 percent who feel Schundler would be the more worthy opponent.

With the margin of error at +/- 5.3 percent, we urge you to continue to keep your eye on this one.

Former state attorney general Jerry Kilgore (R) takes on sprawl and traffic congestion with an ad aimed at Northern Virginia -- his third spot on the air this week, reports the Washington Post's Michael Shear. LINK


Roll Call's Chris Cillizza reports that Sen. Hillary Clinton is playing host to a group of Iowans in her Northwest Washington home for a fundraiser for her 2006 reelection campaign, Noting that she held a similar event for Boston donors on March 16. If Ann Lewis gave those quotes with a straight face, we commend her.

"'She's not the Goliath the press is making her out to be,' one Cox source said. And even if she were, he added, 'we have the slingshot,'" write James Gordon Meek and Tom DeFrank of the New York Daily News on the possible Clinton v. Cox Senate race. LINK

Roll Call's Lauren Whittington looks at the new effort by NRSC chairwoman Elizabeth Dole to reach out to women voters in 2006 -- the Women's Majority Network launches this week with Lindi Harvey at the helm.

The mother of Scott McLellan, otherwise known as Carol Keeton Strayhorn, might run for governor of Texas in 2006. And she gets profile treatment in the excellent Texas Monthly. Check it out. LINK

Nina Easton of the Boston Globe writes that Rep. Michael E. Capuano looks like he's inching closer to jumping into the gubernatorial contest, and is taking shots at his potential rivals for the Democratic nomination -- particularly Attorney General Thomas Reilly for his reticence on the issue of same-sex marriage. LINK

The O'Malley-Ehrlich war continues, the Baltimore Sun's Doug Donovan writes, with Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley accusing Gov. Robert Ehrlich of allowing state employees to continue a smear campaign about O'Malley's marriage. Ehrlich called O'Malley a "whiner." LINK

Speaking of Ehrlich, he's vetoing the bill passed by the Maryland legislature to set a minimum level of health care spending for large corporations and non-profits -- which Wal-Mart argued (evidently successfully) would apply only to them. LINK

"A GOP poll to be released tomorrow shows gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi easily beating Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) in a potential match-up next year," reports The Hill's Savodnik. LINK

"Rossi yesterday reiterated his plans. "I don't need a political career," he said in a telephone interview. "My whole goal is to fix my state. As a U.S. senator, I'm not sure how I do that. That really isn't the direction I'm going."

Rossi's challenge to the Washington state gubernatorial results is still in the courts, and he told the Republican Governors Association "he expects to be elected governor 'one way or another,'" Roll Call's Nicole Duran reports.

Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) tells The Hill he has no desire to leave the Republican Party. LINK

New Hampshire:

John DiStaso's Granite Status has news of a J.C. Watts speech in the state, the latest on the Tobin jamming trial, a review of the nominating commission tea leaves, and much, much more -- including an awesome Scott Spradling reference. LINK

Politics: The Washington Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum looks at the trouble AIPAC is facing, with a federal investigation into allegations that two employees may have given classified information to Israel -- a stark contrast to its customarily comfortable and powerful position. The group's annual convention begins on Sunday, with speeches scheduled from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, RNC chairman Ken Mehlman, DNC chairman Howard Dean, and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), among others. LINK

The Washington Post's Rich Leiby signs off his final Reliable Source column by Noting that porn star, former California gubernatorial candidate, and possible future candidate for Lieutenant Governor Mary Carey will attend an NRCC dinner, the "President's Dinner and Salute to Freedom" in June. LINK

Sayonara Rich, and best of luck in your new endeavors.

The Hill's Jonathan Kaplan takes a look at the short and direct route from the White House legislative affairs shop to K Street. LINK

David Halfbinger of the New York Times gets to write an awesome story about Star Wars politics. LINK

Bloomberg's Catherine Dodge updates her readers on the over budget and behind schedule Capitol Visitor Center.

"As Congress talks about the need to limit spending to reduce a record budget deficit, lawmakers have let expenses for a project at their doorstep balloon to as much as $559 million, according to an estimate from the Government Accountability Office, from a 1999 estimate of $265 million. Earlier studies had put the price as low as $95 million, Obey said. Security features added after the 2001 terrorist attacks, offices for lawmakers, an underground tunnel and delays have contributed to the higher costs, officials said."

And, as we like to say, it's your money.