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One Senator Says 'Enough'

"The document, which ended up in e-mail limbo, without official status, was the E.P.A.'s answer to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that required it to determine whether greenhouse gases represent a danger to health or the environment, the officials said."

That's right: Just pretend it isn't there.

Barringer continues: "This week, more than six months later, the E.P.A. is set to respond to that order by releasing a watered-down version of the original proposal that offers no conclusion. Instead, the document reviews the legal and economic issues presented by declaring greenhouse gases a pollutant.

"Over the past five days, the officials said, the White House successfully put pressure on the E.P.A. to eliminate large sections of the original analysis that supported regulation, including a finding that tough regulation of motor vehicle emissions could produce $500 billion to $2 trillion in economic benefits over the next 32 years."

Justice Watch

Carrie Johnson writes in The Washington Post: "Senior Justice Department officials broke civil service laws by rejecting scores of young applicants who had links to Democrats or liberal organizations, according to a biting report issued yesterday.

"The report by the Justice Department inspector general and the Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that a pair of high-ranking political appointees who are no longer with the department had violated department policy and the Civil Service Reform Act by using ideological reasons to scuttle the candidacy of lawyers who applied to the elite honors and summer intern programs. . . .

"The report on the honors and intern programs is the result of the first in a series of investigations into the role that politics may have played in law enforcement and hiring decisions at the Justice Department over the course of the Bush administration. Studies focusing on hiring and enforcement in the troubled civil rights division, the rationale for the U.S. attorneys' dismissal, and the role played by former Justice Department officials including Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales could be issued soon, according to lawyers following the issues."

Richard B. Schmitt writes in the Los Angeles Times: "Investigators said they were unable to conclude who gave the orders to start employing a political litmus test, though the report says some of the people interviewed pointed to former Gonzales aide Monica M. Goodling, who resigned last year after acknowledging in sworn testimony that she might have violated the law in evaluating applicants for career positions. Many of the records associated with the interviews were destroyed, the report says."

But let's be blunt: It's absurd to think that these two former appointees came up with this idea on their own, or that their higher-ups didn't know what was going on. So who else is culpable? How high did it go?

And was the White House involved? Perhaps the report wasn't able to track the policy to its source because its authors didn't have the authority to investigate beyond the Justice Department.

Iraq Watch

AFP reports that Bush "assured visiting Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on Wednesday that he wants a planned long-term US-Iraqi security pact that 'suits the Iraqi government.'

"'We talked about a strategic framework agreement that suits the Iraqi government,' Bush said of the deal, which would set the rules for the US military presence in Iraq after their UN mandate expires late this year.

"'We continue our struggle to our efforts to reach, inshallah, very soon this agreement,' Talabani said in English as they met in the Oval Office, using the Arabic for "God willing."

Here's the White House transcript.

Iran Watch

David Martin reports for CBS News: "Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen leaves tonight on an overseas trip that will take him to Israel. The trip has been scheduled for some time but U.S. officials say it comes just as the Israelis are mounting a full court press to get the Bush administration to strike Iran's nuclear complex.

"CBS consultant Michael Oren says Israel doesn't want to wait for a new administration."

Oren: "The Israelis have been assured by the Bush administration that the Bush administration will not allow Iran to nuclearize. The Israelis are uncertain about what would be the policies of the next administration vis-à-vis Iran."

Martin: "Israel's message is simple: If you don't, we will. Israel held a dress rehearsal for a strike earlier this month, but military analysts say Israel can not do it alone. . . .

"The U.S. with its stealth bombers and cruise missiles has a much greater capability. Vice President Cheney is said to favor a strike, but both Mullen and Defense Secretary Gates are opposed to an attack which could touch off a third war in the region."

Michael Hirsh writes for Newsweek: "Some remaining hawks in the U.S. administration have suggested that such action could occur between the November election and Bush's Jan. 20, 2009, departure from office, according to a European diplomat who met recently with U.S. officials but would only speak anonymously because of political sensitivities. Most experts think a U.S. attack is still very unlikely, but Israel, which regards Iran as an existential threat, has begun making threatening noises as well."

Pakistan Watch

Robin Wright writes in The Washington Post: "The Bush administration has paid Pakistan more than $2 billion without adequate proof that the Pakistani government used the funds for their intended purpose of supporting U.S. counterterrorism efforts, congressional auditors reported yesterday. Their report concluded that more than a third of U.S. funds provided Pakistan since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were subject to accounting problems, including duplication and possible fraud. . . .

"'Apparently, the Bush administration cares so little about the hunt for Osama bin Laden that it is barely paying attention to how the Pakistani military is carrying out the fight,' Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement. . . .

"In a response included in the report, the Defense Department said the GAO failed to adequately acknowledge Pakistan's 'significant contribution' to fighting terrorism or the 'flexibility' required in 'contingency environments.'"

Vietnam and the Philippines Watch

Dan Eggen writes in The Washington Post: "President Bush met with the prime minister of Vietnam yesterday to discuss closer ties on trade and greater religious freedom, signifying another step forward in the slow warming of relations between the United States and its communist former enemy. . . .

"Also yesterday, Bush said the United States is sending an aircraft carrier and other Navy vessels in response to the devastating typhoon that struck the Philippines over the weekend.

"After meeting at the White House with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Bush expressed 'our deep condolences to those who suffered' as a result of Typhoon Fengshen. The storm has left more than 1,000 people dead or missing and caused damage estimated at more than $96 million."

But before expressing those condolences, Bush called attention to his chef.

"I want to tell you how proud I am to be the President of a nation that -- in which there's a lot of Philippine-Americans," he said. "They love America and they love their heritage. And I reminded the President that I am reminded of the great talent of the -- of our Philippine-Americans when I eat dinner at the White House. (Laughter.)"

Johanna Neuman blogs for the Los Angeles Times: "Cristeta 'Cris' Comerford was named White House chef in August of 2005, after 10 years as an assistant chef in the White House kitchens."

Poll Watch

A new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll finds Barack Obama with a commanding lead over John McCain. Whatever could be going on? Well, as Doyle McManus notes in the Los Angeles Times: "The survey found public approval of President Bush's job performance at a new low for the Times/Bloomberg Poll: only 23% approved of the job Bush is doing, and 73% disapproved."

Among the other result: 56 percent of poll respondents said they agreed with the statement that McCain will continue Bush's policies. Nearly half of moderate Republicans view the president of their own party negatively. And most demographic groups, except for his most loyal base, view the president negatively.

Legacy Watch

Paul C. Light writes in a Washington Post op-ed: "We've seen the federal government at its worst over the past six months. Consider the controversies over contaminated tomatoes and meat, tainted toys, toxic trailers, counterfeit Heparin, aircraft groundings, veterans' care, missing warheads and unrelenting contract fraud. For every NASA success on the surface of Mars, there seems to be a failure back on Earth.

"Congress and the presidential candidates have yet to connect the dots: The next president will inherit what Alexander Hamilton called a 'government ill executed.'"

McClellan Watch

Carla Marinucci writes in the San Francisco Chronicle: "Scott McClellan - the longtime supporter of President Bush who served as his White House press secretary for nearly three years - said Tuesday he hasn't ruled out registering as a Democrat or voting Democratic for president this year.

'I haven't made any long-term decisions,' McClellan said after an address to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, where he received a warm reception from an audience numbering in the hundreds at the Fairmont Hotel."

Danny Westneat writes in his Seattle Times column: "The most remarkable thing about Scott McClellan's book tour to Seattle -- really the only remarkable thing -- is that 800 people showed up to see it. . . .

"Everything in this book -- and all that McClellan told the Town Hall crowd Monday night -- is part of a familiar, sorry tale.

"And yet. There were all those people, thirsting for it.

"Why did they come?

"'I think it's because people feel there still needs to be an accounting, some justice for all this,' said one of the 800, Gifford Jones, 70, of Seattle. 'Hearing the story, from an eyewitness -- it isn't an impeachment hearing, but it's the next best thing. It's like a metaphoric impeachment.'"

Dan Kennedy, writing in the Guardian's opinion section, marvels that McClellan "has emerged as the toast of Washington. . . .

"Dull-witted, clearly out of the loop and uninformed (he admits as much in What Happened, writing that he wasn't even allowed into the daily communications meetings), McClellan stood as a living symbol of the contempt in which Bush and his minions held the press. . . .

"I think McClellan believes what he's saying now, and imagines himself to have arrived at some deep insights into what went wrong in the Bush White House. But deep insight requires deep thought, and there is no evidence to suggest he's any more capable of that today than he was when he was stammering and stumbling through the daily press briefings."

Karl Rove Watch

Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro write for MSNBC: "Karl Rove has become to the media this cycle what Dick Morris was for a period of time in the late '90s: media catnip. Whatever Rove says these days -- be it at an event or in a column -- it seems to carry extra cachet with members of the media."

New York Times opinion columnist Maureen Dowd marvels at Rove's latest attack on Barack Obama.

Said Rove: "Even if you never met him, you know this guy. He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."

Writes Dowd: "Actually, that sounds more like W. . . .

"Unlike W., Obama doesn't have a chip on his shoulder and he doesn't make a lot of snarky remarks. . . .

"He's not Richie Rich, saved time and again by Daddy's influence and Daddy's friends, the one who got waved into Yale and Harvard and cushy business deals, who drank too much and snickered at the intellectuals and gave them snide nicknames."

Homage Watch

Jesse McKinley takes note in the New York Times of the San Francisco initiative to rename a sewage plant after Bush, and points out that "Bush may soon be the sole president to have a memorial named after him that you can contribute to from the bathroom."

Cartoon Watch

Joel Pett wonders: Now what?

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