POLITICS
07/07/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Good morning and welcome to your Sunday Morning Liveblog of those Sunday Morning teevee shows and their terrible guests. In Washington, DC, residents may now registed their displeasure with Sunday morning's fare in a new way, now that the Supreme Court has deemed the city's longstanding ban on guns is unconstitutional. People are still sort of coming to terms with the decision in a city that has been historically pushed around, and that doesn't have full voting rights. With all that in mind, I think that DC can take these lemons and make itself some lemonade. After all, what better way to get voting rights than to do it with guns? I am told this method has been put to great use in Iraq.

One interesting sidelight of today's liveblog is that one of the people we'll be watching today is my boss, Arianna Huffington! She'll be a guest on the panel for This Week With George Stephanopoulos. I thought that the thing to do would have been to recuse myself, but she wants me to put her through the same ringer I do everyone else, so here I am and we'll see how that goes. I did advise her to prepare for Hugh Hewitt by practicing her eye rolls in advance. It's like stretching before a workout. You don't want to be on the panel and pull an eye muscle the first time Hewitt says something idiotic.

Fox News Sunday

We begin with the battle of the campaign proxies! Ed Rendell, who loved him some Hillary Clinton but now has to stump for Barack, and Rob Portman the guy I've never heard of and who is from Ohio and is dreamy in his non-controversial vice-presidentialness! He's like a Pawlenty with a jawline, a Jindal without a past history of exorcism.

They're talking about tax cuts and trade. Rendell says Obama wants to see fair trade and middle class tax cuts. Portman says that Obama wants none of those things. I sort of wish they'd talk about Bobby Jindal's exorcism. What's wrong with that guy, anyway? Portman thinks that the Obama camp is making NAFTA out to be a convenient whipping boy. Rendell says this is the typical Republican mantra, which is the typical Democratic mantra.

How did Obama and McCain treat the gun issue? Obama says that he believed the Second Amendment is an individual right, McCain says that's a flip flop. Wallace points out that McCain has some flip flops on gun rights of his own. Portman says something to that effect, but does not use the word "flip-flopper" so when Rendell says that he said that a few minutes later, Portman shoots back that he never used the word "flip-flopper."

Naturally, Wallace wants to expand on that theme, and now we're talking about how Obama and McCain are the flip-floppingest presidential candidates ever. I was having a more interesting dream about ninety minutes ago. Both men are asked why the other guys flip flops are worse. Rendell and Portman pause, consider the question, and agree that a new page needs to be turned in politics, that candidates understanding of issues and their responsibilities do shift over time, and they should feel free to change their minds on the subject. They agree that sometimes, there's a certain proof of vitality when candidates take an open mind, and they pledge that neither campaign will indulge in those accusations ever again and OH MY GOD YOU GUYS I AM TOTALLY KIDDING BECAUSE THIS INTERVIEW HAS DEVOLVED INTO NONSENSE.

Up next is Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party candidate who looks like a white version of Reverend Jeremiah Wright and speaks like the Simpson's version of President Gerald Ford. Barr thinks McCain has lost his way, a "mixed bag," and that Obama is a better candidate on civil liberties while a worse one on spending. Barr hates him some FISA, especially the part where they spy on American citizens, something that's ticked him off for a while - not long after 9/11, Barr teamed up with the ACLU to fight the broadening powers the President was reserving for himself.

Wallace asks if Barr has any other ambition other than to tip the balance away from McCain and be a spoiler. Barr says that if Obama wins the election, it will be because Obama convinced voters that he was the best candidate. He also thinks that he'll pop in the polls once the Libertarian Party starts kicking out those libertarian jams after July 4th. So look for that this summer!

Wallace points out that not long ago, Barr was sort of not very libertarianish: voting for the Iraq War and the Patriot Act, as well as the Defense of Marriage Act. Barr says that he was wrong on the two former issues and has worked to undo them, and says DOMA was nothing more than an evocation of state's rights.

Barr says that his campaign will be headquartered in HOTLANTA, Georgia, and will, chillingly, be staffed by the the former internet team from Ron Paul. WE OFFICIALLY CALL FOR A BOB BARR BLIMP. AND BOB BARR COCKFIGHTS. And with that, the white Reverned Wright departs.

Oh, boy. It's time for the terrible panel! They talk about the cheesy Unity Show in Unity, New Hampshire - which was UNITACIOUS and EED that PLURIBUS right up Obama's UNUM. Bill Kristol says he was appalled by the sexism and misogyny that Democratic voters demonstrated, and the fact that it sickened him is the best argument for the misogyny.

Kristol and Juan Williams talk up the chances of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as a McCain vice-president, who Wonkette readers will enthusiastically support because Palin is a reformer who kicked out a bunch of corrupt colleagues, has raised a big family, and who is naughty-schoolteacher hot as well.

Hume says that Obama's switch on the DC gun ban, "almost makes you laugh." And then there is a few tense and terrifying moments where you think Hume might laugh, thus throwing the world from its firmament, opening the mouth to hell and drowning all of creation in blood. Luckily, it doesn't happen, because Hume is dour and humorless like Napoleon Dynamite.

Kristol says that Obama is going to go to Iraq and suddenly change his mind on Iraq, calling for a "gradual and honorable" withdrawal. But how is that a flip-flop? Obama's always called for a sixteen-month withdrawal, which is, as they say "GRADUAL." And how is calling for an "honorable" withdrawal different? Obama hasn't said, "When I am President, I will order a withdrawal from Iraq, whereupon our troops will rape and pillage their way to the border in an orgiastic race of dishonor and self-debasement!" I say: YOU WATCH as the media transforms Obama's unchanging Iraq position as a change.

The panel takes up the gun issue. Liasson points out that Obama and Clinton saw how the court was going to go on this matter and adjusted in the face of inevitability. She also notes that federal gun control is an issue that the Democrats have largely given up on. She's right, of course. It's one of the reasons that the Democrats are faring batter out west.

Kristol says that two 5-4 decisions - guns and habeas rights for detainees - demonstrate divergent judicial philosophy. I disagree: both decisions sought to do nothing more than expand the rights of individuals.

Bill Kristol says to Williams, "Is that what you think about gun violence in the District of Columbia? Are poor people not dying at a much higher rate than in most cities, in every other city in the United States? I don't think this gun control restriction has helped." Uhm...I actually think that DC's crime rate has been on the decline for the past few years. Wikipedia says: "In 2006, Washington's per capita murder rate was reduced by 4.4 murders per 100,000 then being 29.1 per 100,000, the lowest rates since 1985." That year, there were higher murder rates in Detroit, Baltimore, New Orleans, Saint Louis, Oakland, and Newark. Oh, Bill Kristol...are you ever right?

This Week With George Stephanopoulos

Battle of the proxies today is Tim Pawlenty versus Rahm Emmanuel. I feel bad for Pawlenty because Emmanuel is TERRIFYING. If Bill Kristol had said DC need guns to protect themselves against Rahm Emmanuel, I would have been, like: PREACH ON BROTHER. Emmanuel immediately calls McCain an Olympic gold medalist flip-flopper and cuts off GS with a sharp gesture. Rahm is all up on Pawlenty, staring him down and grabbing his arm. He's a personal space invader!

Stephanopoulos brings up the Fortune magazine article on Obama and NAFTA where Nina Easton did a lot of prevaricating, pretending that some of Obama's positions on the matter were sudden, post-primary shifts. GS has bought into Easton's take on the matter. Disappointing but not surprising.

Emmanuel is all but performing Alec Baldwin's "always be closing" monologue from Glengarry Glen Ross, waging a war of interruptions and constantly bringing conversations to rhetorical conclusions, forcing Pawlenty to have to rebroach the topic, which makes him look weak. He rattles off a litany of statistics, and I'm watching Pawlenty gulp air, listening to it. GS finally has to intercede, and get Emmanuel to let Pawlenty speak. Rahm agrees, but keeps on interrupting. The conversation finally ends, and Emmanuel gives Pawlenty the sort of "attaboy" pat on the back that says, "Yeah, I just feasted on your testicles, so, you're going to feel some sharp pains while sitting down for the next couple of days."

Next up is Ralph Nader. And really. Will he ever live down that "talks white" remark? GS has got Nader dead to rights on this host of issues, noting that Obama has discussed and acted on the specific issues that Nader brought up. GS is right to do so: Here's Obama on lead-abatement. Here's Obama on predatory lending. Here's Obama on asbestos. That leaves Nader to quote from a pair of public advocates that no one's ever heard of and bring up a different set of issues than he did before.

GS asks why Nader trains all his fire on Obama when McCain is even less amenable to issues that matter to Nader (if there truly are issues anymore that matter to Nader beyond Nader himself). Nader says he's ready to badmouth McCain if someone wants to ask him to do so. My. He certainly makes this whole "third-party" thing look like a monument to courage.

Nader decries the two-party system, saying that even the NBA allows sixteen teams to play in the playoffs. Of course, the NBA playoffs have really suffered as a result of that decision.

And it is panel time with Hugh Hewitt, Katrina VandenHeuvel, Byron York and Arianna Huffington.

Katrina VH says she's "shocked that Obama is moving toward the center," and it's hard to tell whether she's being sarcastic or not. Hugh Hewitt sort of stuns me by standing up for "inside the beltway" experience. Is that what conservatives do, now? When Bush runs against Kerry, being an outsider is really, really important! Arianna notes that Obama's problem isn't a tack to the left or to the center but when he "places his finger in the air to see where the wind is blowing" instead of being a leader. UH OH! I agree. Conflict of interest!

Hugh Hewitt attempts to paint John McCain as the Never Flip-Flopper, and Arianna and Katrina VH immediately shut that noise down. Byron York sounds a discordant note on McCain as well, citing that McCain made a mistake in not capitalizing on two SCOTUS decisions (guns, death penalty) that ran his way.

Arianna and Katrina VH aren't precisely on the same page on the matter, with VandenHeuvel playing up Barr's chances as a spoiler and Arianna emphasizing that if Obama sticks with his brand, he could bring in a swath of new voters and win on enthusiasm. Not surprisingly, Hugh wants to talk about immigration.

Arianna and Hewitt get into a spat over some deranged nonsense that Hewitt said about how Obama's election was going to lead to the bombing of future Ohio State - USC football games, so you'd better get your tickets for next year's tilt. Hewitt says, "Typical liberal technique...ten seconds of quote followed by an hour of fury." But it's ten seconds of quote representative of a lifetime of Hewittian derangement. I mean, that's what "national security" is to Hugh Hewitt - protecting him at his football games! It's such a shallow way of viewing the world that there's no wonder than McCain's shallow paeans to toughness and a lifetime of activity masquerading as achievement impresses Hewitt.

And then: Hewitt then contends that Obama's said that the Iraq withdrawal would take six months. He's setting up this false flip-flop, where Obama comes back from his Iraq visit, continues to call for a sixteen month gradual withdrawal, and is called a flip-flopper even though he's never changed positions. Watch for this! Don't fall for it! He's never said anything of the sort, and Arianna and Katrina VH jump right down on him for that.

Hewitt jumps into a long litany of falsehoods. Pakistan is going to finally solve our al Qaeda problem! Afghanistan is finally stabilizing! Jeez, man! Have you read the news? More Americans died in Afghanistan this past month than in Iraq. General Petraeus himself admitted that the need of the war on terror was greater in Afghanistan. Oy. I'm glad that I did my eyeroll stretches.

York, at least, operates within the context of the world you recognize (and it seems to me that York is laying back in this panel debate because he recognizes that there's not a whole lot of good news for McCain) - where McCain does enjoy polling advantages over Obama on the issues of Iraq and terrorism. Somewhere in the din that follows, I think Katrina VH is saying that voters have come to recognize that McCain's pimping failed strategies. It sounds like Arianna is saying that security will end up being the key issue in the election, and that voters will recognize that McCain is the loser on that issue.

I find myself wishing that one of them would key off what York said about McCain's polling strength in those issues, because I think that it's critical that Obama's current deficits be acknowledged. However, what's more important to me is that we start recognizing that you don't win elections by shying away from where your weaknesses are perceived. Obama should, today - this very minute - take the fight right at McCain's strength, and get the Democrat's out of that toxic state of mind where they cross their fingers and hope that the debate never shifts around to Iraq. Rather than avoid the debate, you have got to step up and DEMAND the debate.

The Chris Matthews Show

Today, Chris Matthews will work off some of his anti-Hillary animus, imagine a future where he'll get to restore it, and then do a little empty-headed discush on the veepstakes. He's joined by Katty Kay (who's raided Monica Crowley's wardrobe for something in a purple velour), David Gregory (who's wearing the tie he bought back when he was a manager at McDonalds), Gloria Borgia (who's name gets more fun to say as your level of inebriation rises), and David Brooks (who is frequently the cause of most of America's chemical addictions).

So, Hillary and Barack are getting it together. "I know that what began in this field in Unity..." Clinton begins, and I can't help but think that she's going to conclude the sentence by saying, "Will likely end in a terrible blimp disaster somewhere outside Sacramento." She wore a blue dress, he wore a blue tie - just like all those non-elitist kids who match dresses to cummerbunds at their all-American proms.

Katty Kay says that while it might have been uncomfortable for Clinton to play a part in that pageantry, she did it well, beaming and waving. "She did exactly what she needed to do."

Chris Matthews then says, "She's basically the leader of the women's movement in America." My wife immediately yells at the teevee, "No she's not! Don't speak for me Chris Matthews!" Then she makes a sound that sort of sounds like "Bleah, bleah, bleah!" except more...I don't know...mocking and bouncy almost? Then she storms off into the kitchen, muttering under her breath.

David Gregory compares it to "Mantle vs. Mays," and then somewhere in there I lose interest in what he's saying. Borger says "tacking back the the center." So drink!

Matthews then says that David Brooks "is great at looking at groups of people and watching them behave." And he is! I know from reading Bobos in Paradise. But Brooks is really, really terrible at reaching conclusions based on his observations. And it's true! I know from reading Bobos in Paradise. And that's basically what Brooks does here: he observes "women who come up to you all the time" who don't like Barack Obama, but then outsources the responsibility of reaching a conclusion to "polling", which he says indicates a unified Democratic Party.

Gregory isn't sure that Obama's doing enough to court the big Clinton fundraisers. But Borgia and Kay note that big strides have nevertheless been made to heal the rift. Kay thinks that the short amount of time for the turnaround makes the progress look remarkable.

But what about the miffed and pissed Bill Clinton, who's mad that he wasn't allowed to say a bunch of racially dubious stuff on the stump? No one has really much to say on that matter. Really. i rewound my TiVo twice to find out if anyone said anything that you might care about on that topic. They didn't.

What about Hillary Clinton being fully onboard with the Obama campaign? Is she in it to win it or looking to have another shot in four years. The "Matthews meter" (not an actual "meter," nor should it be used as the formative basis for any cash wagers) comes back 9-3 in favor of Clinton being a sincere supporter of the Obama presidency. Brooks says that Hillary "believes in the party." He also thinks that Obama needs to keep up the "anti-Washington" rhetoric. Kay says "Reagan democrats." Gregory says, "Oregon." Borgia says, "Old people." Brooks says, "Independents." I say, "Bourbon. How early is too early for bourbon."

Then Chris Matthews shows George Carlin's hilarious rant against Baby Boomers, and I exclaim, "Why are so many people alive right now, but not him?"

And then, as wel go to commercial, "Sponsored by Touch of Grey. From the generation that swore it would never get old!" Oh, gag me. (Also sponsored by FloMax, which sort of makes me feel better about it.)

Back to the show and off to the veepstakes. Matthews shows us a clip of those halcyon days where we all thought the dumbest thing that might get near the White House would be Dan Quayle. Oh, we were so much younger then! So innocent! So naive! He also calls the Bush-Cheney White House a "partnership," much in the same way a single mote of dust might "partner" with the galloping forces of grim death and certain destruction.

The panel has a lot of straight up country wisdom on the matter of the vice-presidential pick, and it boils down to the shocking and curve-busting stance that Obama should pick someone "good" and avoid picking someone "bad." What constitutes bad? The following: father, older brother, Dan Quayle, Lloyd Bentsen, more experienced, less competent, abrasive, unhelpful. I know. YOU NEVER KNEW THIS ABOUT VICE-PRESIDENTING DID YOU.

Brooks says that he's now gravitating toward Joe Biden, but that's largely because his powerful hairplugs are made of atomic particles that have a stronger gravitational pull than earth's.

Matthews says that the "Catholic vote" is terrible. I know, I know, but this is America and you have to let the Catholics vote. Borgia says that Biden has a history of "going across the aisle"...which, I don't know, sort of makes it sound like Biden has a history of lifting his leg and marking his territory, and frankly, we sort of believe that Biden has, in fact, done this, which is why Biden is always going to be a little bit AWESOME.

Kay sees Biden as a "Washington Senate guy," but Matthews objects, saying that Biden lives in Delaware and commutes home every night. REALLY? And he hasn't done a damned thing about the ridiculous tolls you have to pay? Or that only Delaware manages to make being an EZ Pass member less advantageous as you head up and down the interstate? Grrrr. This is why Biden is always going to be a little bit BLAH, BIDEN, BLAAAAAHHH.

Matthews insists that the vice-president needs to have a lot of foreign policy experience. "Doesn't the Secretary of State need to have that?" asks my wife. Gregory says, "That's why I think Governor Rendell, while a great pick in other areas, may not work." Anyone want to tell me what it is about Rendell that would make him a "great pick?"

Kay says Chuck Hagel would be interesting but a tough fit for the Democrats. She also notes that his "chemistry" with Edwards was strong, but Matthews and Brooks dismiss that idea on grounds of gravitas. Brooks thinks Sam Nunn or Tom Daschle would be a good pick, but Tom Daschle would be a hideous pick. I guess what we've learned is that we're better off not having the Matthews panel make a lot of decisions for us. I mean, even when they do okay, you turn around next week and it's purple velour!

Time to tell Chris Matthews something he doesn't know! Katty Kay says that Mugabe is desperate to cling to power because he's terrfied about being taken to the Hague to face war crimes tribunal. Gregory says the possibility of an Obama-Clinton ticket is done and gone forever. Borger says pollster really, really, really care about the Youth vote, which is something they always say. Brooks says something about FISA and then recommends Grand New Party by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam.

And this week's "Big Question" is which candidate will benefit most from a down economy. Everyone says that the people want change, except for Brooks, who says that people want a pony and for nothing bad to have ever happened.

Meet The Press

Today, it's Tom Brokaw's turn to fill the Tim Russert sized void in the heart of NBC's political coverage. But we'll have an eye on Chuck Todd as well, who is our hopeless romantic pick for the job and who is, I believe, slated to be a guest on the show today.

Meet The Press, comes to us today from Jackson Hole, Wyoming (beautiful part of this great land of ours, I'm told) and the title is shorn of Russert's name. Ahh. And this show is going to be about the West, hence the Jackson Holery. And Arnold Schwarzenegger is on, too - making this a double Sunday dose of Gray Davis recall personages. Maybe Gary Coleman's doing Fareed Zakaria's show or something! And, yes, Chuck Todd.

Brokaw is sitting in front of a fire, and the whole set up is sufficient to take my mind of the unholy, brainmelting heat of this past week. Governors Ritter and Freudenthal of Colorado and Wyoming kick things off.

Ritter plays up Obama's chances in Colorado, saying his fellow Coloradoans optimism is the same as Obama's. "The language he speaks is the same language that the governors have spoken who have won seats out here in the West." Freudenthal, who was once a Democrat amenable to McCain, has now changed his mind on the matter, disappointed that the McCain of "2002" seems to have disappeared. Freudenthal says, though, that he "wouldn't bet the ranch" on Obama winning [the state of Wyoming's electoral votes, that is! Not the general election! Sorry for the lack of clarity there and thanks to emailer Chad for bringing this to my attention!], but says he stands to do better than most Democrats.

Freudenthal calls McCain a "short-sighted, one legged stool," and then launches into a tidy, cogent monologue about energy needs and diversity. Hmmm. But just when I'm thinking that someone should get Mr. Freudenthal a bigger megaphone, Brokaw brings up coal - a key industry in Wyoming, and suddenly Freudenthal is dispensing weasel words and shop-worn excuses left and right.

He also says the nuclear power is "in our future," though I'm guessing he envisions that future with very few nuke facilities in Wyoming. Brokaw asks Ritter he'd take a nuke plant in Colorado. Ritter goes to great length to dodge the question. But! The Colorado convention will be the "greenest in history" because it will be lit with woody biomass, and everyone will defecate in a field.

What about guns? Brokaw asks if we're at the stage where different laws are required for different regions? Which is a weird question, since the Constitition itself anticpated the need for a differentiation at the state level for laws and provided an accomodation for it. Freudenthal notes that the question on guns comes down to an "urban/rural split" rather than a "political split." Ritter notes that the decision reversed a ban that had gone "too far," while leaving a wide latitude for states and municipalities to tailor their own set of curbs and regulations.

On the matter of war, Freudenthal believes that the war will not be the determining issue of the race - it will be the economy instead. Ritter backs him up. I disagree with that assessment. What's having the greatest impact on the economy?

Brokaw opens up a question about wildlife, an issue that's very dear to the conservationist west, whose land use objectives are frequently in conflict with the Federal government. Freudenthal says something telling about how land-use issues have gone under the Bush administration: "In this region, there's quite a bit of conversation between the states, but not a lot of cooperation from the Federal government. I think Secretary Kempthorne tries, but he doesn't have any support from the administration, because the only variable they want to maximize in all of the public lands, is the production of oil and gas."

Sad news. Apparently, while Dick Cheney's status has declined in Wyoming, there is still a good chance that when Cheney next sets foot in the state he will not be immediately clapped in irons and tried for war crimes. PEOPLE OF AMERICA: keep trying to convince Cheney to vacation in Belgium!

Sorry about that. Just dripped coffee on the new rug not twelve hours after I suggested that punishment for doing so would entail sleeping in the car overnight. So, if anyone knows how to get coffee out of jute, email me please!

In fact, emailer Lisa Hayes points out I forgot to solicit emails and comments this morning. Sorry I forgot! Please always feel free. Lisa takes issue - friendly issue, though! - with something Arianna said earlier today:

Arianna insisted that the Iraq war would be the major issue that will be on voters' minds when they vote in November. She supported her argument with the basic needs theory - people will vote for "survival" before any other issue.

In my opinion, the argument is correct but the conclusion is false. "Survival" means putting food on my table for the kids and keeping a roof over their heads. Survival requires meeting my immediate basic needs here and now. I believe that for most people, a hungry belly TODAY is far removed from a war on the other side of the earth. It really is the economy, Arianna.

Arnold is on, now, praising Tim Russert for his tough interviews with great "humah."

Well, Brokaw sort of kills the mood for AS by telling him, basically, that California is deep in debt and posting big job losses and had the worst of the housing crisis, and the whole state is a big Fail with the state bird of red-billed Fail, and the state flower of the Creeping Thorny Tuberous Fail, and the state song of "Carry Me Back to Old Fail." It can't all be John McCain's refusal to pay his taxes, is it? Arnold levels his eyebrows - so perfectly level - and tells Brokaw that they've done great things like rebuild Kullyfornya and pay off the debt and do great things and especially - ESPECIALLY! - bring Republicans and Democrats together. Get it? TOGETHER. IN FAILURE.

Brokaw points out that AS is spending at the same rate as Gray Davis did, but AS says that the "numbers are misleading" because they have paid off debt. Also, they've spent on infrastructure and water and that everyone did it together. And even though his approvals have dropped into the forties, AS is still having a "great time" governing California and isn't finding it difficult at all. And, frankly, based upon the GOPocalypse scenarios I see across the downticket races, having approvals in the 40s is pretty good for a Republican right now. Frankly, there have been days where those numbers would relieve most pols.

Brokaw asks Arnold how he squares his opinion of McCain as an environmental crusader with the new McCain who wants a lot of offshore drilling and nuke plants. AS says that it's a simple matter of disagreeing, and that you can't agree with everyone all the time, and anyway, he and his wife have disagreements and so what, should they split up? Okay, Arnold, I'm feeling you, and I'm glad that you aren't going to up and leave your wife when she votes for Obama this year, but I remember the first time you made an appearance with John McCain...and I remember that the key issue was the environment, and it seemed like that was where you two really came together. So, what would happen if your wife had come to bed on your honeymoon and revealed that she was a man, or an ambulatory cactus, or a giant, shapeshifting boll weevil from space? Maybe a dealbreaker at that point? Just saying.

Arnold won't hit Bush in the same way Thomas Friedman recently did, saying merely that there are things they agree on and things they don't. But really, Arnold is either out to lunch - TOTALLY - or breaking his back Gunda Dinning that Cheney Co. water around because the Bush energy policy had a massive negative net impact on California that just can't be ignored, and that Californians aren't likely to soon forget.

Arnold does not support a ban on gay marriage, so there's that. He does not want his daughters to get abortions without telling him or Maria Shriver.

Uhm, apparently the Schwarzenegger-Shriver household is filled with cardboard cutouts of various politcians, which they move around the house according to how badly they want to needle each other. Arnold then tells a joke about how he finally got sick of Maria's support for Obama and so he stood up at the dining room table and said, "I've had it! McCain is best for America," adding "I was so lucky that Maria was out to dinner that night." Comedy really was never Arnold's forte.

Arnold's advice to McCain: "You have a lot of smart people around you, ask them." Ha. Great. He also says that it would be interesting to have townhall meetings because he thinks podiums (or podia, if you are nasty!) are fake. They scare him! Podia, rostra, daises...they make Arnold all a'scurred!

Finally, Chuck Todd is back, in Jackson Hole, kicking some science about how the Democrats have slowly moved into power in the west. Todd says the religious right has alienated voters, and I'd add that a softening position on top-down gun control increased Democrat's regional appeal as well.

What's working against McCain in the West? Todd says that everyone is younger in the West and that the youths love Obama. Also, people like Tom Tancredo have stalked the West like drooling, anti-Hispanic zombie freakouts and have basically destroyed the GOP brand with a lot of people. Uhm...also, maybe there's one or two people who thought Bush would do a good job, and then when he did the opposite of a good job, decided to stop voting for people who made the similar promises or pretended that a good job was done in the first place.

But! The DNC is struggling to fund their convention, basically, because their wasn't a nominee. There's also not a "lot of corporate money in Colorado," maybe because of the thin air. How might McCain hold on to a few Western states? Draft Mitt Romney. Which makes sense, but I have to think that Mitt Romney splinters support in other regions.

Todd notes that the campaign finance issue "per se" has not hurt Obama, but it provides an entree for McCain to make an argument that Obama's not a real reformer. I remain mystified that no one in the media is willing to describe Obama's funding methodology as it really is - effective reform. But hey, I wonder when someone in the media is going to point out that a real reformer pays his taxes and maybe knows what the cost of gasoline is.

In closing, a few words on another tragic death, that of George Carlin. When I heard the news that Carlin had passed, it was oddly, not the famous "Seven Words" routine that passed through my head, but more obscure joke of his, "If he's the undisputed heavyweight champion, then what's all the fighting about?" Again, not a key, career highlight, by any means, but it's a powerful evocation of what Carlin did best - decode a world built on language, and use his facility with words to expose all that was fraudulent in it. That's the aspect of Carlin I think the world will miss the most, the fact that his was a comedy that communicated powerful truths to ordinary people in a way they could understand. That's why you didn't just laugh at Carlin - you felt emboldened, taller, unstoppable. So take that little line, repeat it to yourself, say it as a mantra, turn it over in your mind as you fall asleep at night, and let me know if maybe, you don't start decoding the world as well.

Have a great week!