I had no electricity Wednesday night.

Neither, apparently, did 149,999 other people in the Washington area.

What happened to plunge the nation's capital into sweltering darkness? It rained.

This is a common summertime occurrence. Then some trees and branches fall and knock down the wires. And then you have no power.

Which, I can tell you, makes it difficult to blog.

And to sleep, after a 98-degree day.

The local utility, which does a lousy job of dealing with such matters -- thousands of homes may not get power back until tonight -- always promises to do better, but never does. Once a summer hurricane knocked out power to much of the area for a week. Terrorists couldn't pull that off in their dreams.

At first, I thought about the cable shows I was missing and Web sites I could be surfing. But then I started to wonder about such mundane matters as . . . would all the food in my fridge spoil? The family wound up lighting candles and reading books by flashlight.

It suddenly occurred to me that as I try to track all the developments on Rove, Roberts, Bolton, Social Security, Iraq, CAFTA et al., most people (presumably with their lights on) are more focused on family and personal matters, while the news sort of flickers like background noise. And that is a perfectly rational choice

Until yesterday, the weather in D.C. had been at blast-furnace levels for about two weeks, and it's apparently getting to Roger Simon | http://www.rogersimon.com/archive/2005/07/iheated.html#002785:

"The heat is causing me to care less about Karl Rove. Karl Rove has been caught up in the scandal surrounding the outing of an undercover CIA agent.

"Almost everybody I know thinks Karl Rove will skate, however. Nobody will bring down Rove, they say. He is too high, he is too smart, and, besides, if he falls from power, who will run the country?

"Among the Washington press corps, Rove is widely believed to be the 'Boy Genius', the nickname the president has given him.

"Rove, however, is 54 and no boy, and way back in back in 2000 I said he was no genius. Anybody who loses the popular vote to Al Gore is no genius as far as I am concerned.

"True, Rove and what's-his-name won re-election in 2004, but they had a mole in the John Kerry campaign: John Kerry. There is no other explanation for how that campaign was run.

"Anyway, I am having a hard time caring. I am also having a hard time caring about John Roberts (Is that his real name? It sounds fake to me), the AFL-CIO, the housing bubble, and the energy bill. (I am too tired to think about energy.)

"It's the heat. It is sapping the strength of the entire nation."

But National Review's Byron York | http://nationalreview.com/york/york200507280805.asp does care about Rove, and thinks he's getting a bum rap. Rove is not acting like "a man with something to hide. Yet in spite of it all, Rove has emerged as Target A of the coalition of Democratic lawmakers, liberal pundits, and left-wing activists who have decided that Plamegate is their best shot -- for now, at least -- at the Bush administration. And they've been taking that shot, over and over and over. Harry Reid, Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Kerry, Paul Krugman, MoveOn.org -- they're all in the fight.

"At times, the rhetoric has become slightly surreal. 'The bottom line is, there's a traitor in the White House who betrayed America and the war on terror right under George Bush's nose,' former Al Gore spokesman Doug Hattaway said on CNN recently. He was referring to Rove. Executives at the liberal radio network Air America liked the phrase 'traitor in the White House' so much that they created an anti-Rove fundraising campaign around it. And one of the network's hosts recently asked New Jersey Democratic senator Frank Lautenberg, 'Karl Rove is guilty of treason, isn't he?' Lautenberg said, 'Yes, I think so.'

"The Republican National Committee has fought back, not only defending Rove -- there is no evidence that anybody knows of to suggest he broke the law -- but also pointing out that some of the things that Wilson has said in the past did not turn out to be, uh, true."

The new liberal target is not John Roberts but Pat Roberts, as we see in this HuffPost contribution by Ari Melber | http://www.huffingtonpost.com/theblog/featuredposts.html#a004792:

"Pat Roberts, the Kansas senator who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, announced this weekend that he'll hold hearings on how the CIA designates and protects undercover officers. Roberts explained to CNN that the 'outing' of Valerie Plame makes these issues a 'big deal.'

"But then he contradicted himself. After referencing Plame's 'outing,' Roberts suggested she wasn't really outed because she wasn't really covert. Got that? In an effort to defend the White House, he trotted out this speculative smear:

" 'From a common sense standpoint, driving back and forth to work to the C.I.A. headquarters, I don't know if that really qualifies as being, you know, covert.'

"So Pat Roberts arrogantly believes he can retroactively determine which agents qualify as covert. If he keeps this up, you can expect his hearings will try to discredit CIA policy on covert officers, as Arianna argued in a recent post.

"Why focus on the CIA right now? The approach offers two potential benefits for Republican leak apologists.

"First, it helps them claim they are responding to calls for Congressional investigations by holding hearings, even though the hearings aren't about the actual leak. . . . Second, focusing on CIA policy instead of the White House leak protects the Administration and diverts blame to the CIA.

"But this is a risky strategy that could backfire on live television."

RedState | http://www.redstate.org/story/2005/7/26/224725/287 takes on earlier criticism by the Washington Monthly's blogger:

"Congratulations to Kevin Drum for his ability to read minds. I of course had no idea that Pat Roberts was engaged in 'preemptively defending Rove by implying that perhaps the real problem is that the CIA overuses clandestine cover for its agents.' I thought that by conducting a hearing looking into 'intelligence community's use of covert protections for CIA agents and others involved in secret activities,' Pat Roberts may actually, possibly, potentially be involved in augmenting the 'use of covert protections for CIA agents and others involved in secret activities.'

"But since Kevin assures me that this is not the case by telling me what Roberts and the GOP are really thinking, I am downcast and forlorn."

As for the other Roberts, the Washington Times | http://washingtontimes.com/national/20050728-113459-2687r.htm notes that for some, abortion is the issue:

"A group of female Democratic senators said yesterday that they will vote against Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. unless he vows to uphold abortion rights.

"Yesterday's comments exceed previous posturing by Democrats calling on Judge Roberts to state his position on settled cases, a practice that previous high court nominees have avoided. They also come closer than ever to establishing a single-issue 'litmus test' for his confirmation."

The litmus-testers are Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray, Barbara Mikulski, Maria Cantwell and Debbie Stabenow.

This is one #$%**!! of a story: Wonkette | http://wonkette.com has the MSNBC shot of Bush on the Hill, with a certain finger allegedly making a rude gesture. No way, says Scott McClellan. The White House even called liberal John Aravosis | http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/07/white-house-just-called-seriously.html at Americablog to deny it:

"David Almacy just called me from the White House communications office to clarify the reports that Bush flipped off reporters yesterday while visiting the Hill. David says that Bush was definitely giving the thumbs up sign with regards to the upcoming CAFTA vote (Central American Free Trade Agreement). I asked David if I could write about our conversation, and he said please do.

"I have to say, I'm not real convinced by the thumbs up excuse. It's possible, of course, but the video doesn't look like his thumb, and Bush has a history of flipping off reporters (there's a video we posted last fall of him flipping off a reporter in Texas while governor)."

He's got the screen shot.

When a woman accused Rep. Don Sherwood of trying to choke her last year, the married Pennsylvania Republican said she was just an "acquaintance" and that he was the victim of a "political smear." Now, reports the AP | http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/local/states/pennsylvania/counties/philadelphia_county/philadelphia/12202845.htm:

"Rep. Don Sherwood admitted in court papers filed Thursday that he had a five-year affair with a Maryland woman, but he denied abusing her, as she claimed in a $5.5 million civil suit.

"The court papers were filed by Sherwood, a Republican from northeastern Pennsylvania, in response to the lawsuit filed last month by Cynthia Ore, 29, of Rockville, Md. In it, she alleges that he brutally assaulted her and struck her on several occasions."

Why is the case of a missing black women, Latoyia Figeroa, drawing some TV attention (although at nothing like Natalee Holloway levels?). The Philadelphia Inquirer | http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/front/12250071.htm says the case was drawing no coverage until this blogger | http://www.allspinzone.com, Richard Blair, e-mailed Nancy Grace's show.

Like most people, I was outraged to learn that New York AG Eliot Spitzer had found Sony BMG funneling payola to some radio stations. But Slate's Daniel Gross | http://slate.msn.com/id/2123483/nav/tap1/ wonders what the fuss is about:

"Clearly, people working in regulated industries -- especially radio, where broadcasters operate under federal licenses -- should get nailed when they break the rules. And in radio, pay for product placement without full disclosure is clearly against the rules.

"But is it wrong? In the half-century since the original payola scandals, the music industry, the broader commercial culture, and consumer expectations have evolved to the point where the payola laws seem outmoded and backward-looking.

"It's a truth universally acknowledged that manufacturers of everything from soap to computers pay the folks who control crucial distribution channels to display their wares prominently. It's legal, and no one minds. Viewers have accepted with equanimity the rise of (disclosureless) product placement in television shows and movies. In June, Randy Kennedy wrote an excellent brief dissertation in the New York Times on 'co-op advertising,' the process by which book publishers effectively pay Barnes & Noble for guaranteed placement at the front of stores. (No disclosure, no hint of illegality.) Why are Doritos bags stacked so nicely at the end of your supermarket aisle? Because Frito-Lay pays for them to be there. And the Web is one gigantic payola machine, from Amazon.com to the exploding realm of paid search. . . .

"But what exactly do the laws that Spitzer is enforcing accomplish? How, precisely, are consumers harmed if a radio station in Toledo played Celine Dion more than it otherwise would have in the absence of payments? Unless listeners were tied to chairs and forced to listen to Celine, there's not much of a case."

But it's still cheating, Dan. And the average listener has no way of knowing that the playlist has been cooked.

Commentator Tammy Bruce | http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=18910 says Bush and his Supreme nominee are being unfairly mocked:

"The Left has found a new low, this time courtesy of both the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

"On the same day, both newspapers published bizarre attacks on the most basic values of personal appearance and physical health of the president and those he supports. It's the newest indication of how frustrated and frenzied the Left has grown in the face of an America that refuses to join them in their drowning pool.

"In a piece for the Los Angeles Times on July 22, 2005, titled 'The (over)exercise of Power,' Jonathan Chait notes he finds the president's interest in exercise 'disturbing.' He bleats, 'What I mean is the fact that Bush has an obsession with exercise that borders on the creepy.' As opposed to a president's obsession with Big Macs and a certain intern?"

This followed word that Bush had talked exercise with another possible nominee.

"Chait finds the fact that the president makes time to exercise 'astonishing,' he then notes 'My guess is that Bush associates exercise with discipline. . . . The notion of a connection between physical and mental potency is, of course, silly. . . . ' Really? Not according to the medical establishment and the Surgeon General's office, which notes the benefits of exercise. Such as? Better sleep; reduced tension and stress; reduction of high blood pressure; reduction of anxiety and depression; reduced risk of colon and breast cancer; healthy bones, muscles, and joints; improved self image; and generally improved physical health. . . .

"Consider Robin Givhan's coverage of John Roberts' family at the president's press conference announcing Judge Roberts as his nominee for the Supreme Court. In her Washington Post story also on July 22, 2005, entitled 'An Image A Little Too Carefully Crafted,' Givhan eclipsed Chait with an astounding pettiness only in existence on the elementary school playground. Givhan actually attacks Judge Roberts' wife and children for being groomed and well-dressed.

" 'His wife and children stood before the cameras, groomed and glossy in pastel hues -- like a trio of Easter eggs, a handful of Jelly Bellies, three little Necco wafers. . . . Separate the child from the clothes, which do not acknowledge trends, popular culture or the passing of time. They are not classic; they are old-fashioned. These clothes are Old World, old money. . . . '

"In other words, the Roberts children should have been dressed in GAP clothes, preferably with a piercing of one body part or another."

Of course, we are talking about one opinion columnist and one fashion writer -- not exactly the entire Left.

Don't know if you've heard about the beauty blogger who lost her job, but Nadine Haobsh was dumped by Ladies Home Journal after the New York Post fingered her for writing a Web journal (Jolie in NYC | http://jolienyc.blogspot.com/) that was too, shall we say, candid. Myrna Blyth | http://nationalreview.com/blyth/blyth200507280758.asp picks up the tale:

"What was Nadine saying? What everyone knows about but rarely reveals, like the lavish gifts that beauty companies hand out almost daily to beauty editors. For example, she wrote, 'My boss regularly gets Marc Jacobs wallets and coats, plane ticket vouchers, iPods, overnight stays at the Mandarin Oriental, year-long gym memberships, and, of course, all the free highlights and haircuts your poor, dyed, straightened and styled hair can stand.'

"She also lectured beauty PRs and dissed her editorial colleagues for being too cheap to spend a dollar at a sale of deeply discounted beauty products, even when the money went to charity. She gave advice for getting ahead: 'Be insanely connected, discreetly wealthy, or pretty-in-a-Ralph Lauren-kind-of-way -- and always super slim.'

"In truth, Nadine was just exposing the basic dirty little secret about the relationship of magazines and the companies that manufacture make-up, skin-care, and hair-care lines. Even though hundreds of new products are produced each season, they are all pretty much the same as the old products, no better and no worse. But tons of money is spent by the beauty companies to get editors to give those new products an enthusiastic mention."

And if you're wondering what she looks like, she's already been on MSNBC | http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8702723/.

Programming note: Thanks to Post vacation policy, I'm out of here for the next few weeks. Or maybe I just need a break from the heat.