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White House Ignored Torture Warnings

"The appearance of EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee came a day after the panel's Democrats released a report saying Johnson was willing to go along with California's Clean Air Act waiver until he was told by the White House that it didn't support that decision. . . .

"Under questioning by Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif., who was concerned about whether automakers worked through Vice President Dick Cheney to press their opposition to the California waiver, Johnson was as specific as he ever got at the hearing.

"'I don't recall any' pressure from Cheney, Johnson said."

How Close an Embrace?

Andrew Ward writes in the Financial Times: "When John McCain visited the White House in March to receive the endorsement of George W. Bush, the Republican presidential candidate said he would be glad to campaign alongside the president anywhere in the US -- provided Mr Bush could find time in his 'busy schedule'.

"It has come as a surprise to no one that the two have not been seen together since.

"With an approval rating of 28 per cent -- close to record lows for a US president -- Mr Bush is considered an electoral liability for the Republican party in November.

"'The easiest way for McCain to lose the election is to allow the Democrats to tie him to Bush,' says Larry Sabato, political scientist at the University of Virginia."

Commencement Watch

Meg Kinnard writes for the Associated Press from Columbia, S.C.: "Some faculty members at Furman University have suggested they won't attend graduation ceremonies because President Bush is scheduled to speak, but a group of conservative students wants the university to step in and block the protest.

"Bush is scheduled to give Furman's graduation speech May 31 at the fairly conservative school of 2,625 undergraduate students with Baptist roots.

"More than 500 members of the Furman community signed a letter released Monday asking that administrators refuse to allow faculty members to skip ceremonies in protest of the Bush visit. The move comes after more than 200 students and faculty members signed a statement earlier this month criticizing the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war and environmental issues."

Cheney speaks today at an even safer location: the Coast Guard Academy graduation in New London, Conn.

Bush's European Tour

The Associated Press reports: "President Bush, traveling abroad more this year than at any time of his presidency, plans to head to Europe in June to confer with allies on matters of war, terrorism and trade.

"The White House on Tuesday confirmed the outline of Bush's trip, which uses the U.S.-European Union summit in Slovenia as a launching point. The president will then travel to Germany, Italy, France, England and Northern Ireland. While in Italy, the president will visit the Vatican.

"The trip is scheduled to run from June 9-16."

Late Night Humor

Jay Leno, via U.S. News: "President Bush is back from his big trip to the Middle East. He went over to Saudi Arabia to talk to them about the high price of gasoline. And while he was there, the price went up eight cents a gallon. Doing a hell of a job, Bushy... In fact, when President Bush spoke in the Middle East, he reminded the Saudis that, sooner or later, they'd run out of oil. And they said, 'Yeah, but not before you run out of money.'"

Cartoon Watch

Jeff Danziger on appeasement; Mike Keefe on Bush's G.I. Bill; Chip Bok on Bush head games; and Ann Telnaes on the Bush/Cheney drumbeat.

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