The Times jumps into the liberal-inspired brouhaha over the RNC's supposedly racist TV ad against Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr., who is running in Tennessee against Republican Bob Corker.

Robin Toner gets Thursday's front page with "In Tight Race, Ad on Black Candidate Stirs Furor." The online headline is even blunter: "Ad Seen as Playing to Racial Fears."

"The Tennessee Senate race, one of the most competitive and potentially decisive battles of the midterm election, became even more unpredictable this week after a furor over a Republican television commercial that stood out even in a year of negative advertising.

CNN’s latest political special, "Broken Government: The Do Nothing Congress," featured Dan Rostenkowski as a quasi-ethics expert, agitation for divided government, and general trashing of the Republicans in Congress. Rostenkowski, for those too young to remember is the former Democratic Congressman who ended up being expelled from the House after being accused of, among other things, charging thousands of dollars worth of gifts to a congressional account. (CNN couldn’t find time to mention his transgressions until 34 minutes into the program.) But, mail fraud and prison apparently aren’t an impediment to being an expert on all things wrong with the GOP. Host Ed Henry used Rostenkowski as a springboard to call for divided government:

Rostenkowski: "The secret of my success, I think, is that, the 14 years that I was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, 12 of them were under Republicans."

Henry: "It seems logical that divided government, Democrats in charge of one branch, Republicans running the other, might cause gridlock. But, when you think about it, it actually seems to produce better results."

Norman Ornstein (American Enterprise Institute) : "I have come to the conclusion, reluctantly -- and I don't have a partisan dog in the fight -- that divided government now may be a better way to go, simply because the incentive, if you're leading an institution that you -- in which you share the responsibility for governing, is to try and make your institution work, because the onus is going to be on you to do so."

What interesting timing? It’s unlikely that CNN had such an appreciation for divided government in October of 1994.

On Monday's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann delivered his latest anti-Bush, anti-GOP "Special Comment," (also posted on Countdown's Web site) this time accusing President Bush and Republicans of committing the "dictionary definition" of terrorism in trying to scare Americans into voting for them, even contending that "the leading terrorist group in this country right now is the Republican Party." Olbermann laid blame for the delayed discovery of the remains of 9/11 victims at the feet of President Bush and Republicans. Olbermann: "And yet you can actually claim that you and you alone can protect us from terrorism? You can't even recover our dead from the battlefield, the battlefield in an American city, when we've given you five years and unlimited funds to do so!" (Transcript follows)

Video clip, starting about four minutes into the nearly 11-minute long screed (6:30): Real (4.9 MB at 100 kbps) or Windows Media (4.1 MB at 81 kbps), plus MP3 audio (2.3 MB)

After nearly three weeks of covering every aspect of the Mark Foley scandal, CNN’s "American Morning" still hasn’t tired of the story. Wednesday’s edition of the program featured over 18 minutes of coverage. This encompassed seven full reports on the disgraced Congressman and one anchor read. In contrast, there were no reports on the unfolding controversy of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, and his questionable land deal. Additionally, the October 18 "American Morning" featured only two brief anchor reads on a racially charged remark made by Democratic House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.

"American Morning" has actually increased their Foley coverage over a similar analysis last week. On October 12, the program devoted 18 minutes and 4 seconds to the story. Today, the scandal received 18 minutes and 19 seconds. There’s an important difference however: Starting October 16, "American Morning" shrank from four hours to three. In other words, the show allocated more time to the story, and they did it with a shorter program.

The Washington Post, yesterday, posted a story raising questions about a House rules change that clearly delineates a line of succession should the Speaker of the House be unable to take his place as the third in line to succeed the president in a state of emergency or vacancy.

Today's Boston Globe reports: "Former U.S. Rep. Gerry Studds, the first openly gay person elected to Congress, died early Saturday, days after he was admitted to the hospital after collapsing while walking his dog, his husband said."

The reference to a "husband" may take some of us aback, and the timing of Mr. Studds' passing is certainly coincidental in light of the Mark Foley scandal.

May he rest in peace.

Former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw returned to the Nightly News set on Thursday night to forecast big trouble in Big Sky country for Montana’s Republican Senator, Conrad Burns: "This campaign sums up a lot of the Republican problems nationwide." Brokaw theorized that the country’s just tired of less-than-honest GOP majority rule: "For Burns and other GOP candidates across the country, their toughest opponent may be their own party, after

CNN Political Editor Mark Preston posted a 160-word item on the network's Political Ticker this afternoon celebrating with glee a seven-word smack-down from "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos to Republican Congressman Adam Putnam of the Florida 12th.

MRC's Rich Noyes has calculated the number of Mark Foley/Will Hastert Quit? stories for Week One of the scandal on ABC, CBS, and NBC morning and evening news programs, from last Friday night, September 29, through Friday morning, October 6. So for evening shows, it's Friday to Thursday. For morning shows, it's Saturday through Friday.

Mike Luckovich, the liberal cartoonist for "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," earned a chuckle from CNN anchor Miles O’Brien by claiming that "80 percent of the priesthood" is gay. Luckovich, who appeared on the October 6 edition of "American Morning," was promoting his new collection of comic strips, "Four More Wars." O’Brien began by asking the cartoonist about the Foley scandal and then attempted to link it with a plan by the pope to ban homosexuals from serving as priests:

O’Brien: "And why don't you explain this one?"

[Cartoon appears onscreen. One priest is looking at the other and says, "Does this make me look gay?"]

Luckovich: "Well, OK. The new pope wanted to -- wants to ban homosexual priests, so you are going to have to lose 80 percent of the priesthood if that happens. But -- so I've got a bishop here saying -- he's looking down at his vestments, and he's saying, ‘Does this make me look gay?"

O’Brien: [Laughs]: "It's -- well, you know, it is a fashion statement, isn't it? All right. And, of course-"

Luckovich: "Yes. You know, I was thinking -- Miles, I was thinking about maybe making Denny Hastert maybe like an archbishop and somehow, you know, making the comparison that way. I'll let you know if that -- if that works out."

O’Brien: "Oh, okay. That sounds like dangerous turf, but I would like to see that one for sure."

The editorialists at the Chicago Tribune aren't ready yet to declare that Speaker Dennis Hastert has to be tossed aside, but before they get too high and mighty about the safety of teenagers from lecherous Members of Congress, we should recall that the Trib editorialized in favor of what would become Bill Clinton's last-minute pardon of Mel Reynolds, the convicted teen-sex/child-porn/obstruction of justice Democratic congressman.

Wednesday’s ‘Early Show" continued to hype the Mark Foley scandal.