TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Well, good morning everyone! Feeling okay? No doubt still groggy and worse for wear after celebrating yesterday's primary in Guam well into the night. As is our wont, here in America! Yeah, mofeaux! Guam! Nine delegates! Let's get crunk right now and --

You know, sorry. I can't even with this. Sigh. Things are just not the same since Super Tuesday has come and gone. That night was the special night -- ten states, multiple time zones, lots of delegates and the coppery taste of certainty flooding the back of your throat. I can't even pretend that this week's Tuesday primaries in Mississippi and Alabama and the caucuses in Hawaii and American Samoa are the same level of excitement. They'll probably be no more decisive in the eyes of the media than Super Tuesday ended up being. There's this general sense that the primary season is both still hurtling to a conclusion and yet already over. Like Dan Bern once sang (though he sang it about a friend of his who had an unexpected intimate assignation with a globally-famous pop singer), it all happened "too soon" and now "things are s#!t from here on in."

Oh well, we shall always have each other and our Sunday Morning tradition of swiftly typed snap judgments and exasperationalist exposition. My name is Jason, and today there's going to be...well, there's going to be a lot of Newt Gingrich, I'm afraid. But I will contend with that. You all feel free to share with one another in the comments, shoot me a line if you'd like, and as always, you are invited to follow me on Twitter the rest of the week. Onward!


So, the reason for all the Newt today is because he's basically doomed if he can't win those two Southern Primaries. I mean, Newt is doomed anyway, but we'll all agree to pretend he isn't. Also John McCain is here to talk about what countries he wants to bomb, and whether or not he wants to bomb GAME CHANGE the movie I didn't see that's suuposedly based on the book of the same name that I read, though the movie looks like it should be called NICOLLE WALLACE AND STEVE SCHMIDT HAVE THEIR VENGEANCE ON SARAH PALIN FOR WRITING GOING ROGUE.

Meanwhile, did you know there were, like, some caucuses and stuff yesterday? There totally were. Santorum Kansassasinated Mitt Romney in the Toto State. But Romney is the King of Guam and the Northern Mariana Somethings Or Other and Wyoming.

But right now, we have Newt, on his last thread. He says that he'll win the vote this week, because as he tells it, the way it always happens, you start a little bit behind in the polls because of Romney's money...and then you catch up to him. That's actually not at all what's happening in these races. Rather, you start way ahead of Romney and then he catches you with his money and you lose. Nevertheless, Newt says that he's pulling ahead in Alabama and Mississippi and has "great organizations" in each state.

But Newt has only won two contests and much win 70% of the delegates remaining to get to the magic number of 1,144. Shouldn't he skedaddle? Gingrich says that Romney is the weakest GOP candidate since Leonard Wood and he'll probably lose this week, and "almost all conservatives are opposed to him." He predicts that come June, once the primaries are over, there will be a "sixty day conversation" instead of a coronation. And Newt will probably talk for forty-five of those sixty days non-stop, in a "Lincoln-Douglas debate" with Fate.

Oh, he will lower gas to $2.50 a gallon, with magic, and probably change your life with Lean Six Sigma and its Handshakefulness.

But shouldn't Gingrich let Rick Santorum take this? Newt says no, because Santorum isn't a real conservative, and "it's very misleading" to say that Santorum is a true conservative. He's actually the biggest loser member of a loser gang of Republicans who lost in 2006, according to Gingrich.

Gingrich says that he will achieve his magic gas prices within two years, by opening up drilling and the Keystone Pipeline -- ideas which are not founded in reality, I'm afraid.

Gingrich also erroneously attributes the desire to raise gas prices to Steven Chu, and Wallace does not correct him. (There's sort of no reason to correct him, I guess, since this is sort of a geek show interview with a candidate who won't ever be president.)

Newt looks tired.

Anyway, he's still talking about natural gas, but maybe we should just tap him, and at least have enough Newtonium to fill our fleet of War Zeppelins.

Wallace asks Gingrich to respond to today's news out of Afghanistan, where a U.S. soldier apparently left his base, went to the nearby villages, and went on something of a killing spree, murdering 16 civilians. Gingrich says that we need to investigate it and ensure that justice gets done and the families involved should be compensated for their loss. Presumably it would be monstrous for President Obama to apologize for this happening. After all, these civilians were in the way of our awesome war that will go on forever and will probably end up involving kids that were just born today.

Wallace plays Gingrich that clip of Newt talking about giving up and leaving the Afghans to their "miserable little lives" and asks if we should pull out of the country now. Gingrich says that he was speaking about President Karzai, who owes us an apology, because the Afghan soldiers we trained killed U.S. soldiers. But yes, he says, he has a "more pessimistic" take on the region than most people in Washington, and that we might be currently wasting lives "on a mission that might not be doable." So, he wants to withdraw, now? He's starting to sound a little bit like Ron Paul.

Wallace asks him if he's saying that we should pull out and cut our losses. Gingrich says that by "not doable" he means that the problem is "deeper and less receptive" to military intervention and that the region will be "very hard to deal with in the near future" and that this is why we need to develop our own energy.

Cue another round of neo-con op-eds in the Washington Post about the "disturbing isolationist streak" in today's GOP candidates, I guess!

Now it's time for some John McCain, endless denizen of Sunday chat shows. His reaction to the news out of Afghanistan? He says that it's "obviously a terrible situation" and he "extends his deepest sympathies" but did you hear that there was recently a "significant step forward" lately on detainee treatment? Huh? So things aren't going terrible? And then there's some other stuff about corruption in the Karzai government and in, a mixed bag, or murder and corruption and danger, but hey -- slightly improved detainee policy!

On Gingrich's isolationist response, McCain says, Sure I understand, but OMG OMG 9/11 NEVER FORGET.

Does McCain want to use U.S. airpower to bomb Syria? Oh, yes! But he "never called for unilateral action and does not want 'boots on the ground.'" Syria is a slaughter and a violation of this new "we will stop massacres" policy that was cited as pretext for doing stuff in Libya. McCain wants the U.S. to "lead from in front" and depose the Assad regime, and if we did end the Assad regime, it would be a blow to Iran (which is why no one wants to stop the regime-led murdering in Bahrain, because there's no strategic benefit to saving Bahrainis).

If McCain was president, would he be GAME CHANGING in the region? McCain says that Obama bothers him because he "denigrates the views of people who want to weigh in on the matter of Iran" just because they are so obviously war-lusty. He does give a long answer to Wallace's actual question, which was: If you were President would you have green-lit an attack on Iran or supported an Israeli attack on Iran? McCain says that Obama has "shown degrees of separation" between himself and Netanyahu, with whom he should have "sat down with" (didn't they do this?) and develop "red lines" on Iran, which when crossed would lead to joint war-somethings between us and Israel regardless of how overextended our military is (and remember, McCain would have us expending resources in Syria, too, at the moment). Instead, Obama has "tried to persuade Israel not to attack between now and November 2012." Though I'm pretty sure it'd be great if there wasn't a world war after Election Day, either, I will accept the underlying cynicism of McCain's premise, because that's what I do: accept everyone's underlying cynicism!

Do we get to talk abotu GAME CHANGE? Of course! We just need to make the segue as awkward as possible and there's no better time to talk about some gossipy piffle than immediately after discussing war with Iran, because if anything, Mark Halperin and John Heileman make our culture deservedly eligible for the sort of elimination that only nuclear hellfire can bring. Did McCain watch it? No. He watched hockey. "Of course I'm not going to watch it, it's based on a book that's completely biased and based on unattributed quotes." Actually, it seems that the director, Jay Roach, actually tried to do some factchecking, which is not in keeping of the spirit of the book at all, and is probably why the story of the sprawling rumor-spittle spectacular is limited to the already overtold story of How Sarah Palin Became Vice President.

McCain is tired of everyone being mean to Palin, probably because unleashing her upon the unsuspecting world is his cross to bear.

Wallace shows him a clip, which he says never happened. Also, he says that he doesn't use an "exceeding amount of coarse language." He also says that he evaluated Palin as the "best qualified person," and it wasn't a matter of finding some new candidate to "shake things up" and GAME CHANGE GAME CHANGE GAME CHANGE. (The scene he showed featured Steve Schmidt saying the word "GAME CHANGE" twice in twenty seconds.) But Schmidt say that the movie is all true. McCain says that he regrets that Steve Schmidt said that. Whatever.

Panel time, with the third-stringers: Dana Perino, Evan Bayh, Liz Marlantes, and Chip From the Huckabee 2008 Campaign.

So, the economy in terms of unemployment is on the mend. Perino says "good news is good news and you should call it that," citing those times that the Democrats would dog out the Bush administration for creating some jobs here and there. That said, the economy's fragility remains an issue for the election. Bayh suggests that the economy is "gaining momentum" and the "stock market is looking good," and that "recoveries from financial panics are more sluggish than regular recessions."

Wallace points out that unemployment remains historically high, and that typically impedes an incumbent's re-election. He asks Chip From the Huckabee 2008 Campaign if the unemployment number matters more in an election or if the trajectory matters more. Chip From the Huckabee 2008 Campaign says that the most important factor in the re-election of a President is the President. DEEP, DUDE! (But probably true.) The recovery is "slow and good," and the GOP needs to celebrate that alongside everyone, but then cut a strong contrast on the other issues that are important to them, knowing that voters tend to "lock in" their opinions on the economy, in terms of the election, early.

Marlantes isn't entirely sure that Newt's gas prices tactic will work. "We'll see," she says, but she notes that consumers may understand the seasonal fluctuations of gas prices by now.

Now Perino and Bayh are going to debate gas prices and whether it's fair to assign responsibility for the price of gas. Perino basically says yes, but you have to "deal in fact" and in her opinion time wasted on opening up new resources today is savings you are putting off. (It's really amazing to me that the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which played a big role in slowing what's nevertheless been a boom-time for drilling has been completely forgotten about. It's also amazing to me that such a big part of "weaning ourselves off foreign energy sources" involved tar sands from Canada. Everyone has a functional understanding of what a "Canada" is, right?

Perino's only problem with the Keystone decision, however, seems to be that it would have been a component of a "future path to energy independence," which is a more middle ground opinion.

Bayh says that "in the long run it's about supply and demand" and that Obama has done a lot of good things on the demand side, and some stuff on the supply side. Chip From the Huckabee 2008 Campaign says that gas prices, nevertheless, could be Obama's "Achilles heel."

More horserace panel blather: Romney and Santorum and the upcoming primaries in the South -- what's the potential for a shake-up? Chip From the Huckabee 2008 Campaign says that if Mitt Romney wins, it shakes things up. If Romney wins, it makes very little sense to go on opposing him. Especially if you are Gingrich. (Santorum still have support outside the South.)

Bayh says that at some point Gingrich and Santorum will keep running until they run out of money, and that the overall primary process is helping Obama because it forces Romney to continue to appeal to a rightward-facing base, and the longer it goes on, the shorter time he has to restore himself in the eyes of moderate swing voters. I would posit just the opposite -- Romney HAS NOT had to stand on his head too much and win over the base with red-meat offerings, and is winning anyway. Moreover, his "pivot to the center" is greatly helped by the fact that his two main opponents keep yelling, "Mitt's a moderate! Mitt's a liberal!"

"Keep saying that, please," I imagine Mitt Romney is saying.

Perino says that Romney has won the affection of voters who want to beat Obama and who hold that the economy is the major issue of the race. She says that independents have been alienated by Obama, that GOP enthusiasm exists under the surface, but the GOP will have to be careful with Hispanic voters.

Marlantes points out something that will need to be repeated if Romney loses the South and pundits take up the cause of spinning those losses as "How will Romney win those states in November?" The answer is, "he'll be a Republican candidate for President." (She nevertheless thinks that Romney could beat expectations this week.)

Wallace says that Santorum is still running a strong campaign, and wants to know if it will matter in the long run that Santorum "continues to show strength" and Romney "continues to show weakness." Please note: Romney is not actually showing weakness, but nevermind -- we've got narratives to craft! Chip From the Huckabee 2008 Campaign says that Santorum is running a passionate campaign and Romney's more "cynical," but "at the end of the day" it's a "heart versus mind" decision.

He notes that Romney is using humor more, despite the fact that he is unequivocally bad at humor. Bayh thinks that Romney needs to relax and "be the authentic Mitt Romney." What if the "authentic Mitt Romney" is a guy who likes to wear pajamas all day and play with model trains, though?

Perino says that media keeps raising the bar on Romney no matter how well he does, and she is 100% right. Sure, he "won" the votes on Super Tuesday! But did he cause Rick Santorum's head to explode with heat vision? Did he manage to summon poltergeists to drag Gingrich to the dark side of the moon? Why hasn't Mitt Romney proven himself to be The Last Airbender? Until he does those things, people will doubt whether or not he really won Ohio.


Bob Schieffer starts with the latest out of Afghanistan -- the U.S. soldier who went on a killing spree in southern Afghanistan. Mandy Clark, who is reporting from Kabul, says that the guy went from house to house killing people, and that he's been detained. No one know why the guy did this, and there's no apparent link between killer and victim. CBS' National Security correspondent David Martin points out that the guy's motives are secondary, as the mission as a whole in Afghanistan is to protect the Afghan people and win their trust and that this event really sabotages both efforts.

Very sad news, all around.

Newt Gingrich is here, now, saying that if he were president, he would be open and forthright and ensure that justice gets done and draw a contrast between the United States an "al Qaeda" (who Afghans will recognize as "that group of guys who the Americans seem to think are all over our country, for some reason).

Schieffer asks the obvious question comparing this event to the Qu'ran burning and reminding him that he opposed apologizing for the burning of the Qu'ran. Newt says that "this is a totally different situation." Well, yes. Duh. But if anything, it should be easy to apologize for accidentally burning a Qu'ran. I can assure you, I have apologized for all the things I've accidentally burned and will continue to do so. For Gingrich, remaining unapologetic in the face of accidentally burning the holy book of the people of the nation whose hearts and minds you are trying to win is a necessity to "American exceptionalism." I say, sow good will where you can, because you never know if tomorrow you'll have to answer for someone's killing spree.

Is it time for us to leave Afghanistan? Schieffer asks the blunt question, and Gingrich provides the blunt answer, "I think it is." He then mostly restates what he said on Fox News Sunday, except that he's more rhetorically certain, having taken it out for a spin earlier. Again -- there will be some freaking out from everyone who's gotten agita this year over the "neo-isolationist" sounding stuff coming from the 2012ers.

Shifting to the horse race, Schieffer asks if Mississippi and Alabama are "must wins." Gingrich predicts he'll do well, but he hedges, saying that the states are merely states he "wants to win." He then recharacterizes the race as one in which he is always having to come back against the leads taken by Romney, which isn't what actually has been happening, and he restates that he is "committed to going all the way to Tampa."

Schiefffer plays a clip of John McCain kvetching about how long the primary season is going on, and notes that there's a group of social conservatives that wants Gingrich to drop out so badly that they are willing to flatter him and call him a kingmaker, which, to be honest, is how you solve a problem like Newt Gingrich -- you appeal to his ego. Ultimately, what those social conservatives will have to do is agree to give Gingrich a lifetime supply of "hall passes" and vats and vats of lube.

Gingrich LOLs that McCain was the guy who won the nomination early and then lost to a socialist Muslim, ha ha, suck it old man! He also says that Santorum is terrible on the issues and that he is both better at being conservative and better at being a person with vision. Gingrich can talk to the animals, for instance, and he can literally discern the music of the celestial spheres. Currently, the celestial spheres are singing "Cars With The Boom" by L'Trimm, because the universe is recalling a time when the price of gas was lower.

Now Robert Gibbs is here, to yak about the horse race from the opposite perspective.

Gibbs says he "tends to agree" with the Republican pollster from the Wall Street Journal because they say that the process has been bad for the GOP's 2012ers, in that it's been "corrosive" and "destructive." I'm guessing that if that pollster says something different a month from now, he'll have lost all credibility. But for the moment, we'll roll with it.

Gibbs also mocks Romney for his whole attempt to endear himself to Southerners by saying, "I like grits, you all, howdy, and also Skynyrd!" or whatever it was he yelled. He reminds Romney that the "SEC" is not a regulatory agency in Alabama, but a football conference, and, I don't know, that's as cornball as anything Romney said.

Does Gibbs think that the election will be "about the economy" and a "referendum on the President?" Gibbs says that the economic news has been good and that's important to people, so this election will be less of a referendum and more of a "choice" between policies that are propelling recovery and policies that got us into a recession, which is what you expect Gibbs to say.

Noting that the President hasn't done much to inject himself into the race thus far, choosing instead to mainly stay on the sidelines and let the GOP's process play out, Schieffer asks Gibbs if he'd prefer the President to become more engaged. Gibbs says that until there's a nominee, Obama will probably stay out, and concentrate on the economy. Is Romney the presumed nominee? Gibbs says that Kansas is a sign that Romney is not inevitable.

Deadlocked convention? "I think you hit on it," says Gibbs, adding, "I don't know, anything is possible," but the process has "torn everyone down" and weakened each other ahead of the general. (Please do not place big bets on the prospect of a deadlocked convention.)

Shifting to today's news in Afghanistan, Gibbs characterizes what happened as clearly regrettable and mentions what David Martin said on the matter earlier, that the mission is to "protect Afghan civilians from the deeply destructive nature of the Taliban." An investigation is underway, he says.

Schieffer is rejoined by Martin, now, along with Norah O'Donnell, for analysis and stuff.

O'Donnell says that the president has been briefed on today's news in Afghanistan, and notes that this has come at a terrible time, given that he and Karzai were just in talks about the future role of U.S. forces in the region. Martin reminds that General John Allen is in DC this week for Congressional hearings, and is likely the person who briefed the president on what happened. He also reminds that this is the second time a soldier "walked off a base," except the first was taken hostage. O'Donnell says that the U.S. is "very concerned there will be retaliation," and predicts that there will be an uptick in legislators calling for withdrawal.

Martin notes that Afghanistan has been gathering as an election year issue for some time:

MARTIN: First we have that cross-border incident with the Pakistanis in which American aircraft shot at a Pakistani border post and killed 25 Pakistani soldiers. Relations with Pakistan still haven't recovered. the supply routes through Pakistan are still closed. Then you have the burning of the Qu'ran which forces the commander in Afghanistan to pull all of his advisors out of the Afghan ministries for fear of retaliation. They're still not all back in the ministries. And now you have this which is obviously going to be another setback. War is a huge undertaking. It can withstand a number of mistakes. But when they start to pile up and accumulate in an atmosphere of war weariness...


O'Donnell says that the administration has decided to accelerate the transition out, and that the significant drawdown will likely to continue. Schieffer notes that "in an odd way" these events might help Obama because it creates GOP competitors like Gingrich who want to get out of the region as well. O'Donnell notes that the current situation has made the political argument for remaining much more difficult to manage.

Schieffer finishes out the day reminding politicians to avoid talking with too much faux-familiarity of regional cuisine, lest you get tripped up, like John Kerry getting a cheesesteak with Swiss Cheese (gross) in Philadelphia, or Mitt Romney's "ode to grits" this week. He reminds everyone that in Texas, you do not say "cheesy grits," they are "cheese grits." When you eat a tamale, you remove the corn husk before you eat the tamale, unless you want to choke to death. Schieffer then chomps down on a tamale. Thank you based god!


Today on Meet The Press we have Rick Santorum to talk about his campaign, and a couple of governors are here to yell at each other about politics, and -- egads, no -- apparently the Meet The Press panel is going to talk about "civility." Someone, please send help!

Should Newt Gingrich get out of the race? "You'll have to ask him," Santorum says, pointing out that Newt did pretty badly on Super Tuesday everywhere outside of Georgia. Gregory presses on whether it would be nice if Newt got out if he could best him in Alabama and Mississippi, and Santorum says, that it'd be great if everyone got out, sure.

Can we maybe ask a slightly more challenging question? Okay, here we go -- Gregory points out that the math Santorum faces in daunting, needing "61% of the remaining delegates ultimately to win this thing." Santorum says, well, Romney needs 50% of the remaining delegates, and there's no easy road to that number either. Santorum argues that there is no "mathematical formula." It's a race of "differing dynamics."

He also reminds Gregory that there are delegates that don't show up in anyone's count correctly, or at all, because they've not been apportioned:

I'll give you Iowa, for example. You know, we barely won Iowa by 34 votes. But they had their conventions yesterday. We're going to win the vast majority of delegates in the state of Iowa but nobody has that in their count. They have us winning by one vote. That's not going to be the case when the delegates from these caucuses are actually elected.

If that's true, then that is "making news." (I expect, however, that Paul will claim a greater share of delegates than people suspect he has, in states like Colorado.)

Gregory points out that Santorum is scoring well "in the heartland" so far in this race, which I'm not sure is a relevant observation.

Santorum says that Romney is outspending him...he can't close the cetera. He makes a nice joke about how he's only got the one home state to Romney's three. He also says he's not going to ask anyone to drop out of the race -- that's what his super PAC will do.

Gregory shifts to the jobs numbers and the improving economy and asks if the point to his campaign is to simply suggest he can accelerate the economy, and, if so, how. Santorum says that he can do a better job, by opening up the Keystone Pipeline and drilling everywhere, forever. In addition, gas in going to go up, and "without question will have an impact on the economy." Plus, there are too many regulations, and also too much Obamacare. He is correct that most economists worth their salt say that GDP growth has been anemic.

Gregory points out that the GOP has done their part to show poor leadership on energy issues, but Santorum blames "radical environmentalists" for sabotaging the energy agenda, under the leadership of President Obama. I think that the vast majority of radical environmentalists would scoff at the idea that Obama has been some sort of inspiration to them.

Gregory points out that Santorum dinged Romney this week for being a fan of "big government," but points out that Santorum himself has a history of taking earmarks and supporting the prescription drug benefit and No Child Left Behind. Santorum responds by saying that "the earmarks were in the context of spending on appropriation bills where I never, ever voted for an increasing in spending on any of those appropriation bills" and that he "castigated" his colleagues for spending. He continues:

SANTORUM: On Medicare prescription drugs, there were a lot of things in that Medicare prescription drugs, especially health savings accounts, which is a private sector reform to the healthcare system which I believe was the most dynamic thing we could do, and I still believe is the most dynamic thing we can do to help lower healthcare costs and put patients back in control.

We had private sector Medicare reform in that prescription drug bill. And of course the prescription drug bill itself has come in 42% under budget because it's a private sector model. So, yeah, while-- while certainly there was a Medicare prescription drug benefit it was done in a way that advanced the private sector-- of medicine and-- and that's one of the reasons that-- that I supported it.

Romney, on the other hand, created RomneyCare, which is a doubleplusungood public sector no-no. Plus, he is a fan of mandates, like Obama, and also misled voters on his fealty to conscience clauses. It's one long monologue of tying Romney to Obama. Which is precisely the sort of thing Santorum needs to do, politically, right now.

Santorum is calling Romney a liar. "You're calling him a liar," asks Gregory. Santorum says that's correct.

What line of attack will Obama use on Romney that will kill Romney's chances? Santorum predicts that it will be all about the Affordable Care Act and Romney's CommonwealthCare, and it will disintegrate the "most potent issue" the GOP has in the general election. Also, Romney's into climate change, literally. Santorum, on the other hand, is "not someone who changes with the climate." Figuratively. I mean, I think that Santorum probably brings in umbrella with him/

Now for some reason Gregory is asking about his wife. Santorum says his wife is great. Huge gotcha moment. Game changing stuff, right here. Santorum loves his wife and thinks she is awesome.

Oh, apparently she's the one behind Santorum walking back some of his famous overreaches, like the "snob" line, or calling Romney a liar, which he just did again a few minutes ago, but whatever.

Who influences Rick Santorum? Really? We're asking this question? Santorum says his family influences him. Also, maybe he was bored? And he hates ObamaCare. So much that he'll spend time on the trail because he seems to be convinced that it's somehow deleterious to special-needs children.

He plans on "hustling" in Alabama and Mississippi, and is pretty upbeat about his chances on Tuesday. Which I guess we should call "Cheesy Grits Tuesday" or "The SEC is not a regulatory agency Tuesday."

Now we'll have Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, to talk about governor stuff. It's the Saint Patrick's Day lineup of governors here for some Erin Go Blagh-Blagh.

Gregory starts in asking about the news from Afghanistan today. McDonnell offers that our troops have typically conducted themselves well and have done good work but "one incident like this in the minds of the civilian population" can undo the work of winning hearts and minds. O'Malley praises Obama's leadership and says, "I think this latest incident underscores how important it is for us to conclude our involvement in Afghanistan, as we have in Iraq."

Moving to the economy, Gregory asks about the "trajectory" of the economy and the sudden uptick in optimism. O'Malley says that the "good news in the economy" is the most important issue in America, and Obama has provided 24 months in a row of positive job growth. It's only recently started to keep up with the population growth of the labor force, however. McDonnell says the optimism is worth celebrating but credit should be given to the private sector, not Obama, who has a record of debt.

O'Malley says the election will be a "choice between two alternatives," because he wants to win my award for the most obvious thing said on teevee today.

McDonnell says that the Democrats are trying to take attention off of jobs and employment, which I'm pretty certain is not the case. He also says that he can't think of a single thing that the administration has done to help the economy, aside from the stimulus. "Thank you, Governor McDonnell," says the administration.

Both Governors suddenly form Irish Voltron called Barty O'Donnelly, and they destroy banshees with lasers and then drink Guinnesses.

What about all that stuff that happened in Virginia, with the state government wanting to get wands placed in the vaginas of area women, for cheap kicks? McDonnell protests, "that was one bill out of a thousand that we passed." Sure, sure. But you tend to remember the ones that involve wands being inserted into vaginas.

They fight.

DAVID GREGORY: That's really about--


DAVID GREGORY: --seven that have these--


DAVID GREGORY: --kinds of procedures.

GOVERNOR BOB MCDONNELL: --twenty-three that require a woman to have an opportunity to--

DAVID GREGORY: But were you wrong?

GOVERNOR BOB MCDONNELL: --see an ultrasound?

DAVID GREGORY: Were you wrong initially when--


DAVID GREGORY: --you said this invasive procedure should be part of the bill?

GOVERNOR BOB MCDONNELL: No, I never said that.

DAVID GREGORY: Or did you only--


GOVERNOR BOB MCDONNELL: No, David, I think you're wrong on the facts. What we said simply was that we support the concept of an ultrasound and through the committee process I realized that there were some other things in the bill that needed to be amended.

Martin O'Malley just sits there, straight up not shoving things in the hoo-has of Maryland women, like a boss.

David Gregory says, "This was the state of the Virginia mandating women have an additional procedure, a mandated healthcare procedure. I thought that's exactly what conservatives opposed?"

McDonnell says that it was really about "informed consent," but the point of the bill was, of course, nothing of the kind -- the invasive wandings were entirely unnecessary to provide information. I'd respect this guy more if he just said that the obvious intent was to shame women. Instead, he says that the whole issue has been blown out of proportion to shift the conversation off the administration. Yes, because getting a bunch of Virginia Republicans to mandate vaginal penetration was exactly how the White House drew up their 2012 strategy (to distract from what? the improving economy?)

Martin O'Malley is just chill like a mofeaux, because he's not all up in anyone's ladybusiness.

O'MALLEY: I think the central issue in this race is creating jobs and expanding opportunity. I think these cultural-- don't like to use the term wars. These cultural-- divisive, wedge issues, these sort of roll back of women's rights, roll back of women's access to contraception and other help, roll back of voting rights, roll back of workers' rights. All of these things that take us back are not strengthening our economy and creating jobs. And I think that people start to see a pattern, David, emerging, in states like Wisconsin, states like Ohio, states like Florida. And, sadly, recently, even in Virginia, where these cultural issues are crowding out the things that really should concern us most.

O'Malley goes on to say that "seven out of the best 10 states for creating 21st century jobs in science and technology are governed by Democratic governors." That includes Virginia, of course, so take a bow McDonnell.

For whatever reason, O'Malley is asked if McDonnell would be an "extremist" if he was Romney's running mate, O'Malley uses the opportunity to pont out that McDonnell's job creation record is better than Romney's, so maybe he should be at the top of the ticket. McDonnell dissents as genially as possible, given O'Malley's "compliment jujitsu."

McDonnell says that he does not want to be President, but he wants Romney to be President, and he'll help him how he can.

Okay, we've only the Meet The Press panel remaining between us and LIBERTY! (Or in my case, "GOING TO THE HARRIS TEETER, FOR LIBERTY, AND ALSO KIDNEY BEANS FOR RED BEANS AND RICE, AND MAYBE THIS CLARION CALL FOR LIBERTY HAS GONE ON ABOUT 40 WORD TOO LONG, SO LET'S REEL IT BACK!") So let's get through it. Today, we have Peggy Noonan, Al Sharpton, Marsha Blackburn, and E.J. Dionne, to dazzle us with their thought-farts.

We'll start with some goulash on the 2012 horserace. Noonan says that Romney is the frontrunner. GEEZ, THANKS, PEGGY. She also says that Santorum is "holding on" and "trying to break through." I mean, I am just straight up startled by this level of analysis.

Blackburn says that people are watching the race because they want to see who will win. And voters want people to listen to them.

Great, thanks!

Sharpton says that Romney is the front-runner but hasn't demonstrated that he's been able to show appeal to the middle of the country, a task that won't matter until he's actually the nominee.

Dionne says that the primary "keeps forcing Romney back to the base." I think Dionne is overstating that tremendously. Romney's base is a room filled with stacks of cash. His opponents keep calling him moderate. Right now, people may be more alienated by his wealth than his politics.

Now we'll talk about civility. Sharpton says that "we have to be mature enough to say we have passionate feelings about politics" without "poisoning the atmosphere." Blackburn says something...I don't know. It was literally un-reblogable brain mush. Noonan thinks that people should stop being victimized by misogynists, and that somehow the internet is to blame for this? Now Dionne is telling everyone about that time the uncle he used to fight about on politics died and taught him that sometimes you love people you don't always agree with. Just form a drum circle, guys.

Okay, well, that's that. I hope that we've once again allowed you to skip watching these shows in lieu of something that's healthy or pleasureable. We shall return next weekend, and as always, I wish everyone the best. (And I'm open to anyone who has advice on my Final Four bracket.) Have a great week!