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MRC Research Director Rich Noyes on Fox Business Network at 5:55 p.m. ET

Agitated by McCain's 'Nasty' & 'Childish' Anti-Obama 'Attack' Ad --7/31/2008


1. Agitated by McCain's 'Nasty' & 'Childish' Anti-Obama 'Attack' Ad
The McCain campaign's new television ad comparing Barack Obama to shallow celebrities such as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton so upset the network news operations that they all ran full stories, with ABC and NBC leading with the "attack ad." Though all tried to frame their stories as balanced looks at attacks against each other by both campaigns, it was the McCain ad which prompted the stories, the language used painted McCain as the aggressor and Obama as the victim fighting back ("responded," "fired back" and "hitting back") and two of the stories featured condemnations of the McCain ad as "childish" or "juvenile." ABC's Charles Gibson teased: "McCain says Obama is all star power and no substance. Obama says McCain is using scare tactics. It's getting nasty. And it's only July." Reporter David Wright, who relayed how "Obama told an audience in Missouri the Republicans are just trying to scare voters," concluded with how "it's getting ugly early, and some Republicans are expressing concern about McCain's tone, in particular one former McCain aide calling the new celebrity ad 'childish.'" On CBS, which put "Attack Ad" on screen, Katie Couric asserted: "John McCain sharpened his attack against Barack Obama, trying to turn his popularity against him. And late today, Obama fired back." For an expert assessment, Chip Reid went to the Politico's David Mark who declared that the McCain ad "seems a little juvenile."

2. Barnicle: Subliminal Depiction of Obama as 'Foreign' in McCain Ad
Mike Barnicle went into hyper-sensitive mode on Wednesday night's Hardball, as the substitute host feared the McCain campaign was questioning Barack Obama's citizenship, simply because a McCain ad placed the words "foreign oil" right next to Obama's face. Barnicle did pull back a bit, as he asked if he was "overreacting," but his initial reaction to the ad was reminiscent of the New York Times' claiming the word "Rats" popped up in a GOP ad back in 2000.

3. Despite Standing O for Obama, Minority Journalists Deny Bias
After Barack Obama's more-than-enthusiastic greeting by many attendees at the UNITY convention for minority journalists in Chicago on Sunday, some in the media have expressed outrage that some have now questioned their objectivity, despite the appalled reactions from some of their own peers to the display and the live video shown on CNN. April Yee wrote on Andrew Romano's blog on Newsweek.com on Monday about the question of whether minority journalists can cover the Illinois Senator objectively. She quoted Ernest Suggs of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who objected to this question even coming up in the first place: "That mindset needs to change....It is offensive that because we have the same color or the same agenda, our journalistic ethics and responsibilities go out the window."

4. CNN's Jack Cafferty: Now Its Obama's Campaign That's 'Flawless'
Apparently, it must have not been enough for Jack Cafferty on Monday to merely call Barack Obama's overseas trip "almost flawless" on Monday's The Situation Room. On Tuesday's program, Cafferty opined that it was a "mystery" that Obama didn't have more of a lead in the polls. "It seems like that Obama should be miles ahead of McCain when you consider the political climate. Americans can no longer stand President Bush or the Republican Party or the war in Iraq, and, of course, there's the deteriorating economy." He continued: "...Obama has run a pretty flawless campaign, highlighted by that hugely successful trip overseas last week. John McCain, on the other hand, spent last week making one mistake after another."

5. ABC's Shipman: Some Call Gore the 'Best' VP in 'Modern History'
During a segment on Wednesday's Good Morning America about the selection of Vice Presidents and what goes into the choice, reporter Claire Shipman gushingly introduced a clip of Al Gore's wisdom on the subject. She fawned: "But the man who is often named as the best choice in modern history, and who orchestrated a great choice himself, has some key advice." Shipman didn't say who, exactly, considers Gore the best selection in history. She also failed to point out that Joe Lieberman, the Democrat tapped by Gore in 2000, wasn't elected Vice President. So, how would one qualify that as a "great choice?" Earlier in the piece, the GMA correspondent lauded the "emotional history of picking the first Jewish running mate [Lieberman]," the "bold move of two young southerners" [Bill Clinton and Gore] and blandly noted George W. Bush's selection of Dick Cheney as a "surprise."

6. Olbermann: NRA 'Trying to Increase Deaths,' 2nd Amend for Muskets
On Wednesday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann claimed that pro-gun groups like the NRA "are trying to increase deaths by gun," as he used his "Worst Person" segment to attack a gun rights activist who infiltrated gun control groups to spy on them: "Mary Lou Sapone infiltrated the executive boards and learned the plans of organizations trying to decrease deaths by gun in this country, and apparently reported it back to organizations like the NRA, which are trying to increase deaths by gun in this country." A month earlier, on the June 26 show, after the Supreme Court struck down Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban, Olbermann named Justice Antonin Scalia, whom he called a "clown," as "Worst Person" as the Countdown host ridiculously claimed that the Second Amendment only applies to the types of weapons that existed in 1791, like muskets, to be used in a militia: "You've got around 30,000 gun deaths in this country per year, another 75,000 non-fatal gun wounds, half the suicides are by gun; and this clown and his four colleagues decided that the 32-year-old ban on handguns in Washington, D.C., and the demand that firearms kept in the home be locked or disassembled was unconstitutional based on the Second Amendment."

7. Letterman's 'Top Ten Signs Barack Obama is Overconfident'
From the Late Show, the "Top Ten Signs Barack Obama is Overconfident." One entry: "Been cruising for chicks with John Edwards."


Agitated by McCain's 'Nasty' & 'Childish'
Anti-Obama 'Attack' Ad

The McCain campaign's new television ad comparing Barack Obama to shallow celebrities such as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton so upset the network news operations that they all ran full stories, with ABC and NBC leading with the "attack ad." Though all tried to frame their stories as balanced looks at attacks against each other by both campaigns, it was the McCain ad which prompted the stories, the language used painted McCain as the aggressor and Obama as the victim fighting back ("responded," "fired back" and "hitting back") and two of the stories featured condemnations of the McCain ad as "childish" or "juvenile."

ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased: "Tonight, McCain says Obama is all star power and no substance. Obama says McCain is using scare tactics. It's getting nasty. And it's only July." Reporter David Wright, who relayed how "Obama told an audience in Missouri the Republicans are just trying to scare voters," concluded with how "it's getting ugly early, and some Republicans are expressing concern about McCain's tone, in particular one former McCain aide calling the new celebrity ad 'childish.'" (That would be John Weaver: marcambinder.theatlantic.com )

On CBS, which put "Attack Ad" on screen, Katie Couric asserted: "John McCain sharpened his attack against Barack Obama, trying to turn his popularity against him. And late today, Obama fired back." For an expert assessment, Chip Reid went to the Politico's David Mark who declared that the McCain ad "seems a little juvenile."

Politico's page for Mark: www.politico.com

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Reid began by recounting Obama's media-fueled celebrity status: "Just about everywhere Barack Obama goes, the adoring crowds follow. 200,000 turned out to hear him speak last week in Germany. Here at home, his town hall meetings are standing room only. Political commentators compare him to a rock star. Now the McCain campaign has decided to try to use Obama's celebrity status against him."

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams teased: "On the broadcast tonight, going negative. And here's the question: What do Britney Spears and Paris Hilton have to do with Barack Obama. Well that's the questions being asked about the new John McCain attack ad and now the Obama campaign is hitting back."

NBC reporter Kelly O'Donnell uniquely showed an earlier anti-McCain attack ad from the Obama campaign: "Team McCain maintain that Obama was the first to run a negative spot hitting McCain on TV three weeks ago." Viewers saw a very short clip: "On gas prices, John McCain's part of the problem."

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide transcripts of the Wednesday, July 30 stories on ABC and CBS:

# ABC's World News:

CHARLES GIBSON, IN OPENING TEASER: Welcome to World News. Tonight, McCain says Obama is all star power and no substance. Obama says McCain is using scare tactics. It's getting nasty. And it's only July.

...

GIBSON: Good evening. It is a pledge made by every candidate in every campaign, to run on the issues and avoid negative attacks. Just last month, John McCain pledged that throughout the campaign, he would "show my admiration and respect for Senator Obama." As for Obama, he pledged to "run a different campaign, run a positive campaign." Well, that was then. Today the attacks were flying so fast and furious, it was sometimes hard to keep up. ABC's David Wright is in Washington tonight. David?

DAVID WRIGHT: Good evening, Charlie. The mud has, indeed, been flying, with Obama constantly comparing McCain to President Bush. And today, McCain comparing Obama to empty celebrities -- all sizzle, no substance. John McCain has been trying to raise doubts about his opponent. Today in Colorado, he was at it again.
JOHN MCCAIN: The bottom line is that Senator Obama's words, for all their eloquence and passion, don't mean all that much.
WRIGHT: McCain has recently said Obama would rather lose a war to win a election. He's called him "Dr. No" on energy reforms, and run ads blaming Obama for high gas prices.
CLIP OF AD: He's the biggest celebrity in the world. But is he ready to lead?
WRIGHT: Today McCain unveiled a new ad in 11 states, flashing images of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, suggesting Obama is just another vapid celebrity.
CLIP OF AD: Higher taxes. More foreign oil. That's the real Obama.
STUART ROTHENBERG, POLITICAL ANALYST: Nobody's going to confuse Paris Hilton with Senator Barack Obama. But over time, the attempt to raise questions about his substance, that could very well work.
WRIGHT: The Obama campaign dismissed the ad as more of McCain's "steady stream of false, negative attacks. Or, as some might say, 'Oops! He did it again.'"
BARACK OBAMA: We don't need the same, old, tired answers. What we need is something new.
WRIGHT: Obama told an audience in Missouri the Republicans are just trying to scare voters.
OBAMA: Their argument is, "I know you don't really like what we're doing, but he's risky."
WRIGHT: McCain's spokesman shot back: "This is a typically superfluous response from Barack Obama. Like most celebrities, he reacts to fair criticism with a mix of fussiness and hysteria." Today the McCain side released a memo noting, among other things, Obama's fondness for Chocolate Protein bars, Black Forest Berry Honest Tea, and Arugula. In other words, high-maintenance like any big star. But Obama supporters are having none of it. Today they called attention to the shoes McCain has worn on stops throughout the Rust Belt -- Italian calfskin loafers that retail for $520 a pair. Late today, the Obama campaign responded to McCain's celebrity ad with a new ad of their own.
CLIP OF AD: - "false," "baloney," "the low road," "baseless." John McCain: Same old politics, same failed policies.
WRIGHT: It's getting ugly early, and some Republicans are expressing concern about McCain's tone, in particular one former McCain aide calling the new celebrity ad childish, though the McCain campaign insists that Obama went negative first.


# CBS Evening News:

KATIE COURIC, IN OPENING TEASER, WITH "ATTACK AD" ON SCREEN: Also tonight, the McCain campaign compares Barack Obama to Paris and Britney.
CLIP OF AD: He's the biggest celebrity in the world. But is he ready to lead?
BARACK OBAMA: I don't pay attention to John McCain's ads.

...

COURIC: Turning now to the presidential campaign, which today seemed to be ripped from the pages of a celebrity magazine, with supporting roles played by Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. John McCain sharpened his attack against Barack Obama, trying to turn his popularity against him. And late today, Obama fired back. Here's Chip Reid.

CHIP REID: Just about everywhere Barack Obama goes, the adoring crowds follow. 200,000 turned out to hear him speak last week in Germany. Here at home, his town hall meetings are standing room only. Political commentators compare him to a rock star. Now the McCain campaign has decided to try to use Obama's celebrity status against him.
CLIP OF AD: He's the biggest celebrity in the world. But is he ready to lead?
REID: Today releasing an ad that compares Obama to those symbols of shallowness -- Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. In a conference call today, McCain's top advisor said the ad is intended to pose a stark choice.
STEVE SCHMIDT, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: Do the American people want to elect the world's biggest celebrity or do they want to elect an American hero?
REID: Political analyst David Mark says the ad is sure to get a lot of attention, but-
REID: Do you think the Britney Spears/Paris Hilton ad is going to work for John McCain?
DAVID MARK, POLITICO.COM: No, I think it's going to backfire. John McCain's campaign is predicated on the idea of loyalty, somebody of honor. This seems a little juvenile.
REID: Today the Obama campaign responded with an ad of their own.
CLIP OF AD: John McCain: His attacks on Barack Obama, "not true," "false," "baloney," "the low road"-
REID: Campaigning in Missouri, Obama took the high road.
BARACK OBAMA: You know, I don't pay attention to John McCain's ads, although I do notice that he doesn't seem to have anything very positive to say about himself, does he? He seems to only be talking about me.
REID: Today an Obama campaign spokesman responded to the McCain attack ad by quoting Britney Spears, saying about McCain: "Oops, he did it again."

Barnicle: Subliminal Depiction of Obama
as 'Foreign' in McCain Ad

Mike Barnicle went into hyper-sensitive mode on Wednesday night's Hardball, as the substitute host feared the McCain campaign was questioning Barack Obama's citizenship, simply because a McCain ad placed the words "foreign oil" right next to Obama's face. Barnicle did pull back a bit, as he asked if he was "overreacting," but his initial reaction to the ad was reminiscent of the New York Times' claiming the word "Rats" popped up in a GOP ad back in 2000.

[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The following exchange occurred on the July 30 edition of Hardball:

MIKE BARNICLE: You know we sit here in living rooms and dens across America and these ads come beamed across and you sort of, half pay attention to them. I think a lot of people just half pay attention to 'em. But there's an element in that ad, right toward the end of the ad where it has Obama's face up and the word "foreign," next to it with "more foreign oil." There it is, it's right there on the screen now.
TODD HARRIS, FORMER MCCAIN SPOKESMAN: Well it's true! I mean you know, Obama he keeps saying no to every-, no to expanded nuclear, no to-
BARNICLE: Yeah but the "foreign," "foreign" deal. Obama is "foreign."
HARRIS: "Foreign oil." It's the-
BARNICLE: I know, I know, but you know, you know?
HARRIS: Actually it should say "Yes to foreign oil," because that's his energy policy.
BARNICLE: Am I overreacting to that?
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: Well I don't think these things are coincidental. I do think, though, that Senator McCain has a choice to make here. He's gotta decide whether or not he wants to be the happy warrior or he's gotta decide whether or not he wants to be, run for grouch-in-chief. And the danger, when you're 72-years-old, when you're running a campaign that just seems like a grouchy old-man campaign is, is that, that's not what people want in a President. And it's not somebody who's offering a vision for the future. If you look at the two campaigns, Senator OBama is offering a hopeful, optimistic, aspirational vision for America's future and John McCain is running as Walter Matthau in Grumpy Old Men.

To read about the New York Times finding the word "rats" in a Republican ad in 2000, see: www.mediaresearch.org

Despite Standing O for Obama, Minority
Journalists Deny Bias

After Barack Obama's more-than-enthusiastic greeting by many attendees at the UNITY convention for minority journalists in Chicago on Sunday, some in the media have expressed outrage that some have now questioned their objectivity, despite the appalled reactions from some of their own peers to the display and the live video shown on CNN.

April Yee wrote on Andrew Romano's blog on Newsweek.com on Monday about the question of whether minority journalists can cover the Illinois Senator objectively. She quoted Ernest Suggs of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who objected to this question even coming up in the first place: "That mindset needs to change....It is offensive that because we have the same color or the same agenda, our journalistic ethics and responsibilities go out the window."

For April Yee on Newsweek.com: "Can Minority Journalists Cover Obama Objectively?", go to: blog.newsweek.com

Suggs might have a point, since two of the biggest cheerleaders for Obama in the media are white men: Lee Cowan and Chris Matthews.

[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted Wednesday afternoon, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

For the June 20 CyberAlert item on Cowan, "NBC: Michelle Obama Dresses 'As Brightly As Her Husband's Smile,'" see: www.mrc.org

July 26 NewsBusters.org item by Brad Wilmouth on Matthews, "Matthews Defends 'Thrill Going Up My Leg,' Insists He's Fair," go to: newsbusters.org

Les Payne, a black Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the New York City paper Newsday, is also quoted in the piece: "[Payne] said black journalists could cover Obama not just fairly, but also critically. 'The job of the black journalist in covering Barack Obama isn't to protect Barack Obama,' he said. 'We have to assume then that we are not in his pocket, that we are not beholden to him, that we are not in his swoon.'"

Earlier in the blog post, Yee recounted how two journalists from the Dallas Morning News, Holly Yan and Matthew Jeffers, made a bet over how the crowd at the UNITY convention would react to Obama. After witnessing the response, Yan wrote that she "found the enthusiasm of some of the attendees 'grossly inappropriate.'"

The MRC's Tim Graham wrote on Sunday about the passionate greeting Barack Obama received from many at the UNITY convention. Not only did the presumptive Democratic nominee receive standing ovations when he walked on stage and when he left, Obama received the "rock star" treatment from many of the journalists. One unnamed journalist even cried, "He touched me!"

July 27 NewsBusters.org item by Graham on Obama's reception at the UNITY convention: newsbusters.org

CNN's Jack Cafferty: Now Its Obama's
Campaign That's 'Flawless'

Apparently, it must have not been enough for Jack Cafferty on Monday to merely call Barack Obama's overseas trip "almost flawless" on Monday's The Situation Room. On Tuesday's program, Cafferty opined that it was a "mystery" that Obama didn't have more of a lead in the polls. "It seems like that Obama should be miles ahead of McCain when you consider the political climate. Americans can no longer stand President Bush or the Republican Party or the war in Iraq, and, of course, there's the deteriorating economy." He continued: "...Obama has run a pretty flawless campaign, highlighted by that hugely successful trip overseas last week. John McCain, on the other hand, spent last week making one mistake after another."

For the July 29 CyberAlert item on Jack Cafferty labeling Obama's trip "almost flawless," go to: www.mrc.org

Pretty flawless, Jack? How do you so quickly forget issues like the Illinois senator's church that he attended for two decades and his pastor, Reverend Wright? How about his "bitter" comments about people in Pennsylvania?

[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted Wednesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Cafferty then listed possible reasons for Obama's lackluster performance: "One Democratic pollster tells The New York Times Obama still faces a lot of obstacles. He's young, African-American, relatively inexperienced, and has a background that not very many Americans can relate to.... Robert Novak wrote in his column that Obama's difficulty reaching the 50 percent mark is due to a, quote, 'overwhelmingly white undecided vote of 10 percent to 15 percent.'"

He also extrapolated from two other quotes by Novak to bash McCain: "Novak, a Republican booster, describes McCain as 'wooden' and acknowledges -- quoting here -- 'Not even Bob Dole's dismal candidacy in 1996 generated less enthusiasm in GOP ranks than McCain's current effort'.... To be called more wooden than Bob Dole is to be called really wooden, Wolf."

The full transcript of Jack Cafferty's commentary, which began 7 minutes into the 6 pm Eastern hour of Tuesday's (July 29) The Situation Room:

JACK CAFFERTY: It's a mystery to many -- why isn't Barack Obama farther ahead in the polls? CNN's poll of polls show Obama leading by five. He's up 45 to 40 over John McCain. In most polls, he rarely breaks 50 percent. A new USA Today/Gallup poll actually shows McCain leading Obama 49-45 percent. That's among likely voters. It seems like that Obama should be miles ahead of McCain when you consider the political climate. Americans can no longer stand President Bush or the Republican Party or the war in Iraq, and, of course, there's the deteriorating economy. And Obama has run a pretty flawless campaign, highlighted by that hugely successful trip overseas last week. John McCain, on the other hand, spent last week making one mistake after another.
One Democratic pollster tells The New York Times Obama still faces a lot of obstacles. He's young, African-American, relatively inexperienced, and has a background that not very many Americans can relate to. Also, his rival, McCain, has a history of appealing to independent voters, which is part of the reason why his supporters argued during the primaries that he was probably the strongest general election candidate. A pure Republican likely would not have done as well. Robert Novak wrote in his column that Obama's difficulty reaching the 50 percent mark is due to a, quote, 'overwhelmingly white undecided vote of 10 percent to 15 percent.' It's left some Republicans speculating whether John McCain might be able to actually back into the presidency, much like he did his party's nomination. This is despite the fact that even Novak, even Novak, a Republican booster, describes McCain as 'wooden' and acknowledges -- quoting here -- 'Not even Bob Dole's dismal candidacy in 1996 generated less enthusiasm in GOP ranks than McCain's current effort.'
Here's the question, then: Why isn't Barack Obama doing better in the polls? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile [and] post a comment on my blog. To be called more wooden than Bob Dole is to be called really wooden, Wolf.
BLITZER: (Laughs) All right, Jack. Stand by. We're going to discuss this and more later.

ABC's Shipman: Some Call Gore the 'Best'
VP in 'Modern History'

During a segment on Wednesday's Good Morning America about the selection of Vice Presidents and what goes into the choice, reporter Claire Shipman gushingly introduced a clip of Al Gore's wisdom on the subject. She fawned: "But the man who is often named as the best choice in modern history, and who orchestrated a great choice himself, has some key advice."

Shipman didn't say who, exactly, considers Gore the best selection in history. She also failed to point out that Joe Lieberman, the Democrat tapped by Gore in 2000, wasn't elected Vice President. So, how would one qualify that as a "great choice?" Earlier in the piece, the GMA correspondent lauded the "emotional history of picking the first Jewish running mate [Lieberman]," the "bold move of two young southerners" [Bill Clinton and Gore] and blandly noted George W. Bush's selection of Dick Cheney as a "surprise."

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Wednesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Shipman did offer one passing reference to bad choices by Democrats. Regarding the party's 1972 and 1984 nominees, she asserted: "You do not want, say, a repeat of Thomas Eagleton's candidacy, who was dogged by stories he'd had shock therapy or the messy finances of Geraldine Ferraro's husband, which was decidedly off message."

However, much of the piece included gratuitous shots at George H.W. Bush's 1988 announcement that Dan Quayle would be his running mate. After playing the now worn out debate clip of Democratic candidate Lloyd Bentsen telling Quayle he was "no Jack Kennedy," Shipman slammed the politician for "embarrassing gaffes."

The ABC reporter then lectured: "And even if they look good on paper and in pictures, they have to be ready and well prepared. Dan Quayle was not." She condescendingly added, "Advisers assumed as a Senator he'd be used to a few cameras and questions."

Of course, one of the reasons Quayle seemed less than serious was because the media aggressively played up any gaffe and then caricatured him. Quayle may have misspelled potato, but he didn't express the hope that he could visit all 57 states, as Barack Obama has done. Journalists have ignored that and other verbal goofs by the Democratic presidential candidate.

Finally, for all the Quayle bashing, he was elected Vice President. Lloyd Bentsen was not. Joe Lieberman was not. Perhaps Shipman should have factored these points into her reporting.

A transcript of the July 30 segment, which aired at 7:16am:

CHRIS CUOMO: Let's get right to the race to '08. The buzz on the so-called veepstakes has reached a fever pitch, with all eyes on the men and women thought to be on John McCain's and Barack Obama's short lists. But picking a VP is just the beginning of what can be a very tricky obstacle course. ABC's senior national correspondent Claire Shipman has more on all this from Washington. Good morning, Claire.

CLAIRE SHIPMAN: Good morning, Chris. Any day now, that's the speculation about these announcements. Will it be Mitt Romney for John McCain? Joe Biden or Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia for Barack Obama? Well, as the candidates put the finishing touches on this matchmaking game, they're looking very closely at history. Veepstakes rumors reached code red Tuesday. Frenzied speculation that Barack Obama, especially, might be ready for a pick. He huddled for hours with advisers Caroline Kennedy and Eric Holder as the spotlight turned to Virginia Governor Tim Kaine as somebody at the top of the list.
VIRGINIA GOVERNOR TIM KAINE: I haven't sought it. I'm not running for it. I'm not asking for it.
SHIPMAN: A sure sign he's in the running. It's a familiar quadrennial passage as the doldrums of summer set in. A public and press corp eager her for the hallmark moment of the campaign. What's the chemistry like? Does he or she read presidential? Is it a relationship that seems destined for a happy ending?
[Archive footage]
DAN QUAYLE: I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did.
SHIPMAN: Or, rather, doomed to embarrassing gaffes.
LLOYD BENTSEN: Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.
SHIPMAN: It's a critical milestone and the public watches closely.
TAD DEVINE (Democratic strategist & fmr consultant Gore 2000 campaign): This is the first presidential decision that a nominee for president makes. They use that as a proxy for judging whether or not the candidate for president is capable of making a presidential level decision.
SHIPMAN: One rule, learned the hard way over the hard years, vet, vet, vet. You do not want, say, a repeat of Thomas Eagleton's candidacy, who was dogged by stories he'd had shock therapy or the messy finances of Geraldine Ferraro's husband, which was decidedly off message. And even if they look good on paper and in pictures, they have to be ready and well prepared. Dan Quayle was not. Advisers assumed as a senator he'd be used to a few cameras and questions.
DEVINE: And what about 150 cameras? And what about lights so bright you can barely see when you're standing there. That's a different world.
SHIPMAN: Now, there's the search for that intangible, that je ne sais quoi. Whether the surprise of picking the man running the vetting process [video of Bush and Cheney], the bold move of two young southerners [Video of Clinton and Gore] or the emotional history of picking the first Jewish running mate [video of Gore and Lieberman].
DEVINE: Making a pick that fits, fits the election, fits of message structure of a campaign and fits the times is probably the secret ingredient.
SHIPMAN: But the man who is often named as the best choice in modern history, and who orchestrated a great choice himself, has some key advice.
AL GORE: Focus first and foremost on picking someone who would be able to be president and all the other factors pale in comparison to that.
SHIPMAN: And there may be a new rule, just this morning. You might not want to pick a vice presidential candidate who would later seem to have the right stuff to go on "Dancing With the Stars." That's right. Word is that Dan Quayle is being heavily courted for that show and may be considering, Diane and Chris, putting on his dancing shoes.
SAWYER: Dan Quayle doing the paso doble. I'm computing that right now. Okay, thanks so much, Claire.

Olbermann: NRA 'Trying to Increase Deaths,'
2nd Amend for Muskets

On Wednesday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann claimed that pro-gun groups like the NRA "are trying to increase deaths by gun," as he used his "Worst Person" segment to attack a gun rights activist who infiltrated gun control groups to spy on them: "Mary Lou Sapone infiltrated the executive boards and learned the plans of organizations trying to decrease deaths by gun in this country, and apparently reported it back to organizations like the NRA, which are trying to increase deaths by gun in this country."

A month earlier, on the June 26 show, after the Supreme Court struck down Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban, Olbermann named Justice Antonin Scalia, whom he called a "clown," as "Worst Person" as the Countdown host ridiculously claimed that the Second Amendment only applies to the types of weapons that existed in 1791, like muskets, to be used in a militia: "You've got around 30,000 gun deaths in this country per year, another 75,000 non-fatal gun wounds, half the suicides are by gun; and this clown and his four colleagues decided that the 32-year-old ban on handguns in Washington, D.C., and the demand that firearms kept in the home be locked or disassembled was unconstitutional based on the Second Amendment."

The Countdown host continued: "Despite years of fog created by the NRA and right-wing organizations, that isn't very complicated: For the purposes of forming a state militia, you're entitled to keep and bear arms. Obviously, those would have to be the kind of arms in use in 1791, when the Bill of Rights was passed -- the musket, the wheel-lock, the flint lock, the 13th century Chinese hand canon. Stuff like that. Scalia, of course, simply decided that the militia part of the Second Amendment is some sort of quaint anachronism that he could happily ignore. And there's the beautiful thing about our country -- they say anybody can grow up to be a Supreme Court justice. And in Antonin Scalia, there's your proof, and tonight's 'Worst Person in the World'!"

[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted late Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Below are transcripts of relevant portions of the July 30 and the June 26 Countdown show on MSNBC:

# From the July 30 Countdown:

KEITH OLBERMANN: The runnerup, Mary McFate, also known as Mary Lou Sapone. Mother Jones magazine reports this today. Ms. McFate is a 60-something woman, a quirky but constant participant in gun control organizations, like the Brady Campaign. Ms. Sapone is a 60-something woman, a former figure in the National Rifle Association and wealthy pro-gun activist. The magazine says they're the same person. As Mary McFate, Mary Lou Sapone infiltrated the executive boards and learned the plans of organizations trying to decrease deaths by gun in this country, and apparently reported it back to organizations like the NRA, which are trying to increase deaths by gun in this country. In other words, she was a Benedict Arnold for the gun lobby.

# From the June 26 Countdown:

KEITH OLBERMANN: And our winner, Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court. You've got around 30,000 gun deaths in this country per year, another 75,000 non-fatal gun wounds, half the suicides are by gun; and this clown and his four colleagues decided that the 32-year-old ban on handguns in Washington, D.C., and the demand that firearms kept in the home be locked or disassembled was unconstitutional based on the Second Amendment. You remember the Second Amendment: "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Despite years of fog created by the NRA and right-wing organizations, that isn't very complicated: For the purposes of forming a state militia, you're entitled to keep and bear arms. Obviously, those would have to be the kind of arms in use in 1791, when the Bill of Rights was passed -- the musket, the wheel-lock, the flint lock, the 13th century Chinese hand canon. Stuff like that. Scalia, of course, simply decided that the militia part of the Second Amendment is some sort of quaint anachronism that he could happily ignore. And there's the beautiful thing about our country -- they say anybody can grow up to be a Supreme Court justice. And in Antonin Scalia, there's your proof, and tonight's "Worst Person in the World"!

Letterman's 'Top Ten Signs Barack Obama
is Overconfident'

From the Late Show with David Letterman, a "Top Ten" list written for the July 29 show, but edited out for time from what aired yet accidentally posted on the show's Web site, the "Top Ten Signs Barack Obama is Overconfident." Late Show home page: lateshow.cbs.com

For video of Letterman presenting this list: lateshow.cbs.com

10. Proposed bill to change Oklahoma to "Oklobama"

9. Offered Bush 20 bucks for the "Mission Accomplished" banner

8. Asked guy at Staples, "Which chair will work best in an oval-shaped office?"

7. The affair with Barbara Walters

6. Having head measured for Mount Rushmore

5. Guy sits around eating soup all day

4. He's voting for Nader

3. Offered McCain a job in gift shop at Obama Presidential Library

2. Announced his running mate will be Andy Dick

1. Been cruising for chicks with John Edwards

-- Brent Baker