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A bit of political gender-bending on this morning's Today, as ostensibly conservative radio talk show host Michael Smerconish called for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq while the normally hyper-partisan James Carville did anything but ride to the defense of his fellow Democrat, Congressman William Jefferson, apparently caught with his hand in a $100G cookie jar.

Mary Claire Kendall writes in Human Events that the "Da Vinci Code," despite all the media hype, has not performed as well as Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ." "Passion" made it into the list of top ten all-time grossing films, while "Da Vinci Code" will not. "Passion" also had a fourth of the production budget of "Da Vinci."

"The Da Vinci Code" made $102,481,037 in the first week. But says Kendall:

New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen writes about what he thinks the Bush administration should do to improve the flow of information to the public. One of the items he proposes is a "Bloggers Briefing" for "stand-alone" and citizen journalists.
If he’s a believer, Tony Snow should be taking Bush’s case to the world, and seeking opportunities to make that case. That means more briefings. Not cutting back but building on.

Reporters like to think of themselves as brave truth-tellers who can cut through the rhetoric and evasive maneuvering of politicians. But sometimes, they sound like they're trying to assist politicians in their evasive manuevering. Exhibit A is Tuesday's front-page Hillary article in the Washington Post.

I've often read that plants grow better when exposed to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide.

Yet, when the Associated Press mentions the subject, what it says is: Global warming boosts poison ivy.

The AP report, as published May 29 by the Boston Globe, begins:

Still wondering if there really is a liberal media bias? Not convinced yet? Well, a recently released story by Ron Fournier of the Associated Press may change your mind.

In an article entitled “Democrats Eye November Landslide,” Fournier comes across more as a professional Democratic pollster than a supposedly impartial journalist. As amazing as it might seem, the article began: “Republicans are three steps from a November shellacking each a grim possibility if habitually divided Democrats get their acts together.”

Unfortunately, the cheerleading was just beginning:

“First step: Voters must focus on the national landscape on Nov. 7 rather than local issues and personalities that usually dominate midterm elections.

“That would sting Republicans, who trail badly in national polls.”

Convinced yet? Well, here are paragraphs four and five:

Since it was Memorial Day, the day on which America honors its war dead, it was natural that The Washington Post saw this as the perfect day for...a big profile of a hard-left "anti-war" activist, Stacy Bannerman of Military Families Speak Out. Reporter David Montgomery chronicled her marriage to a National Guard soldier, "the warrior and the antiwarrior," and she won. The husband, back from Iraq, asked: "Soldiers are dying for what reason again?"

Charlie Gibson will take over the anchor duties tonight (Monday) for ABC's World News Tonight. The MRC's Web site features a just-compiled "Profiles in Bias" collection of liberal comments and reporting from Gibson. The page lists about 50 quotes, going back to 1990, with ten accompanied by audio/video clips.

NewsBusters reader Mr. Snuggles has pointed out something conspicuously absent from Google’s various pages today – any reference to Memorial Day.

I’m sure most Googlers are extremely aware of how Google will dress up its logo at its web search or news pages in honor of holidays or special occasions. Google has been known to do this on Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, etc. In fact, here is a display of all the Google holiday logos so far this year, and since 1999. You’ll even find that Google celebrated Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday just a week ago. For those scratching their heads, he created Sherlock Holmes.

Yet, if you go to Google’s home page here, or its news page here, you will see nothing commemorating today’s national holiday. By contrast, Google did honor the Persian New Year on March 21, as well as Louis Braille’s birthday on January 4.

Furthermore, if you go back through the Google archives, you'll find that, although it has over the years commemorated Shichi-go-san being celebrated in Japan, Bastille Day in France, and Korean Liberation Day, it appears that Google has never dressed up its logo for Memorial Day.

Why might that be?

Most of you have likely heard this classic version of “America The Beautiful” performed by Ray Charles. Many in the music industry perceive it to be the finest recorded version of this anthem, as well as one of the most memorable from Mr. Charles. It comes to us courtesy of John Condra at GOP Video News.

As you watch this marvelous video montage, I’m sure it will remind you of the true meaning of this holiday. I hope you all have a marvelous day with your families.

God Bless America!

Watch Video

What follows are the actual lyrics to Charles’s version. For other patriotic Memorial Day videos posted this weekend, please go here and here.

The National Organization for Women doesn't seem to be the powerhouse it used to be. Paul Farhi reports in Monday's Washington Post that the old group is sending a letter (along with other feminist groups) protest the demotion of Elizabeth Vargas as anchor of ABC's "World News Tonight." Question: does it take a week to get a letter together?

On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume, a veteran of ABC News, chided his former employer: “ABC News came out with this story, worded the way it was. 'Included in the investigation,' ‘in the mix of the investigation,' has an unmistakable implication, and that is the guy's under investigation. We have now had an absolutely unequivocal denial of that, not only from the Justice Department at one level, but when this business about what well, what about being 'in the mix' came along, Paul McNulty, the U.S. Attorney, came out and denied that as well. This looks like a bad story. They led their newscast with it. The implication was unmistakable. They ought to back off this story, and the sooner the better."

CNN's Howard Kurtz, on Sunday morning's Reliable Sources, raised the accuracy of the story with Linda Douglass who covered Capitol Hill for ABC News until the end of 2005: "Did ABC overplay that story?" Douglass was reluctant to lambast her ex-colleagues, but her disagreement with their news judgment was clear: "Well, I think leading with it was a controversial decision, is what I would say. And I think that saying he was part of the investigation, if in fact his name just came up, was, was a phrase you might want to revisit." (Transcripts, and a link to video of the Ross story, follow)

Box Office Mojo estimates that the box office receipts for "The DaVinci Code" for this weekend will drop to $33.5 million, a 56.5 percent drop from last weekend's opening, and the biggest percentage drop among the top ten movies. One reason is the fourth-largest opening on record for "X-Men 3: The Last Stand," estimated to land $107 million.

Could there be a new sheriff on the block at Fox News Watch?  Brash lefty Neal Gabler often manages to get the last word, but on last evening's show he was soundly put in his place by National Review editor Rich Lowry, substituting for Cal Thomas.

Some readers may have forgotten about this. Some may not have been alive at the time. However, thirty years ago this past April, as America was in the process of celebrating its bicentennial, Chicago Cubs centerfielder Rick Monday, a former Marine Corps Reservist, made one of the greatest plays in baseball history…but it didn’t involve a ball, a bat, or a glove.

As protestors were trying to set fire to an American flag in the centerfield of Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, Monday darted by, grabbed Old Glory, and saved her from a disturbing fate in front of a huge Chavez Ravine crowd.

According to Inside Baseball: “This moment and the symbol it represented – freedom, history and those who have lost their lives in battle to save Old Glory – had countless Americans talking; from politicians in Washington, D.C. and throughout the country to military veterans to everyday people. It was ranked as one of the top 100 classic moments in baseball history by the National Baseball Hall of Fame committee and third on Sporting News’ list as the most ‘unusual’ moment to occur on a major league baseball field.”

The following marvelous video (hat tip to reader Airforce_5_0) is a four-minute tribute to the event, including video footage, and interviews with Monday as well as then Dodger third-base coach Tommy Lasorda. Enjoy.

Update: A full transcript of this video along with another picture of the event follow courtesy of MLB.