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In his culture column this week, Brent Bozell offers a preview of Monday's premiere of NBC's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." (The premiere, on DVD, was available from Netflix.) Why critique it?

Today's starter: Noel Sheppard and I noted Thursday, the Republicans' electoral fortunes are beginning to look up. Now comes word that online gambling sites that allow wagers on elections are starting to favor Republicans retaining control of the House. The GOP's poll numbers are also up as well. Have the Democrats peaked?

On Friday's C-SPAN morning show "Washington Journal," host Brian Lamb interviewed columnist Robert Novak in the hour of 9 to 10 AM Eastern time on his column on the unraveling of the Plamegate scandal. (Novak was in Urbana, Illinois, at his alma mater, the University of Illinois.) Perhaps the most entertaining parts were his harsh takes on Chris Matthews and Jon Stewart, whom he called "a self-righteous comedian taking on airs of grandeur."

After a supportive call mentioning Matthews, Novak said "Hardball" was unwatchable:

"Well, thank you. My problem here, sir, is that I never watch Chris Matthews' program because I don't feel that I can possibly learn anything from all that shouting and blathering and interrupting people. So I haven't watched his program in years. I don’t know if he said much about this and I don’t care. I can imagine that Mr. Matthews believes that being mistaken in journalism means never having to say you’re sorry. So I don’t think he’ll say much of anything."

This one is too delicious for words…but I’ll try. The Star Ledger reported on Wednesday that a person dressed up as Cher, and scheduled to sing and dance at a Democrat Party convention in Atlantic City, created quite a stir. Why might that be? Well, do you remember the film “The Crying Game?”

She wore a slinky black dress with silver sparkles, just like Cher.

She had curly black hair, too. And canned music so she could sing along with Cher's greatest hits.

But this was not your traditional impersonator. Because underneath it all, this lady was a man.

Hypocritically, the party that strongly supports gay rights and same-sex marriage didn’t find this amusing:

The saga of Rosie O’Donnell and her bizarre views on Christianity and the war on terror continues.

On the chat show "Inside Washington" on PBS station WETA last night, the spin was in: Plamegate was a massive zero. No one was more enthusiastic than Newsweek's Evan Thomas. I'm sure the reporting of his colleague Michael Isikoff has him completely persuaded. But here's what didn't come up: how much ink did Newsweek spill hyping this "zero" story up? (Hint: here's just one example.)

In a surreal clash of the sacred and the profane, the New York Times - that citadel of secularism - has declared in its editorial of this morning that Pope Benedict "needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology," for having quoted a 14th century Christian emperor who said:

On Friday night's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann renewed his "Special Comment" attack on President Bush, replaying the original comments from Monday's show, and adding a condemnation of Bush for an awkwardly worded, off-the-cuff remark made by the President during Friday's news conference that it is "unacceptable to think" the actions of America can be compared to those of terrorists.

Actual Caption:

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez speaks with reporters who surround him after a meeting of the G-15 at the 14th Nonaligned Summit in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2006. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

In a brief item on the Friday's CBS Evening News, Katie Couric asserted: “At the top of tonight's news briefing, a who's who of President Bush's adversaries on the world stage all together in one place. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are among the leaders in Havana for the meeting of the non-aligned nations. Raul Castro is playing host. His older brother, Fidel, is still recovering from intestinal surgery.”

President Bush's Rose Garden press conference on Friday morning began with the president making a forceful statement about the need to keep the country safe, and how new legislation to curtail interrogations and surveillance programs could make that job harder. But the goofiest question of the day had to be the one from CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux:

Malveaux: "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President, will actually be in the same building as you next week, in Manhattan for the United Nations General Assembly. You say that you want to give the message to the Iranian people that you respect them. Is this not an opportunity, perhaps, to show that you also respect their leader? Would you be willing to, perhaps, meet face-to-face with Ahmadinejad, and would this possibly be a breakthrough, some sort of opportunity for a breakthrough on a personal level?"

Bush: "No, I'm not going to meet with him. I have made it clear to the Iranian regime that we will sit down with the Iranians once they verifiably suspend their enrichment program. I meant what I said."

It may have been Bush's shortest answer of the day. He didn't get into how he was supposed to show respect for the Iranian president's Israel-threatening or anti-Semitism or Holocaust denial.

Perhaps Bush's best quip of the day came in his exchange with Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times who described her paper as "friendly." To laughter, Bush retorted: "I'd hate to see unfriendly." Plus, NBC's David Gregory was again the Man Who Wouldn't Shut Up in an antagonistic exchange with Bush. (More on both below.)

Video clip #1, of Gregory/Bush (4:30): Windows Media (2.9 MB)

Video clip #2, of NY Times as "friendly" paper (32 secs): Real (1 MB) or Windows Media (1.2 MB), plus MP3 audio (200 KB)

In a September 15 report for "The Situation Room," CNN reporter Bill Schneider wondered if the current decrease in gas prices has been timed to help Republicans in the midterm elections. He ominously asked:

Schneider: "The drop in prices may last a couple of months, long enough to get through the November election. Could that be what the oil companies want?"

Does this mean that high prices in the spring and summer were an attempt to hurt the Republicans? This theme, that oil companies are trying to aid the GOP, was repeated or insinuated throughout the report. In the segment, which aired at 4:40PM, anchor Wolf Blitzer introduced Schneider by noting that a form of smog reducing gasoline will be pulled "as we head into the fall and the November elections."

This was not a good day, and probably won't be a good weekend, for those who have been bad-mouthing the economy --

On Friday’s “Early Show,” CBS News correspondent Jerry Bowen offered a one sided global warming report. The story appealed to the emotions of viewers and only cited scientists who are alarmist on the subject. Bowen referred to specific findings and opinions offered by scientists who claim “man made” global warming is a threat, while only offering the reality that critics of man as the cause of global warming exist and not their opinions or research.

News reports have focused on environmentalist alternatives instead of the most effective method of malaria prevention.