Roger Ailes (no relation, apparently, to the Fox News chief) brings us a “measure of Howard Fineman’s integrity.” The Newsweek columnist and NBC pundit explained to Don Imus on Friday why Chris Matthews’ Sunday show on NBC is so much more popular than Matthews’ “Hardball” on MSNBC: “[T]he [NBC] producer…tells Chris ‘Shut Up!’ And he does, and the rest of us get to talk.” But a few hours later, Fineman recanted his heresy, writing on MSNBC.com that he “screw[ed] up, big time … by failing to defend the best political mind on TV, my loyal colleague and host Chris Matthews … Matthews is the best thing on political TV.” Ailes notes: “There’s a man who won’t sell his soul for less than spot on a cable show with sub-basement ratings. You can always trust Howard — to kiss the biggest ass in town.”

Meanwhile, Kos counsels Democrats not to worry about John Kerry’s meager post-convention bounce. “[W]e have the most polarized, most hardened electorate probably in the nation’s history,” he argues. “Some polls have shown a bounce, others have not. We’ll probably see just as little movement after the GOP convention.” Anyway, “bounces take a week to really manifest themselves as people digest the latest info and talk to other people about their impressions.” Methinks the blogger doth protest too much.

And Paul Waldman, writing on The Gadflyer, pokes mild fun at President Bush’s new TV ad, “Together”, calling it “absolutely empty,” and “so languid it almost seems to be playing at three-quarter speed.” He speculates that the ad was made “so the Bushies could tell the press they’re being positive; it will soon be followed by a new round of attacks on John Kerry.” Waldman also notes that Bush’s previous slogan — “President Bush: Steady Leadership in Times of Change” — seems to have been quietly shelved. Sounds like a flip-flop to us.

David Adesnik of Oxblog reports on Bill Clinton’s appearance on Letterman last night. Surprisingly, “the interview was almost all softballs.” That inspired Adesnik to compile his own list of questions to ask Bubba (if he were hosting a late-night talk show, presumably). You can read them for yourself if you want, but let’s just say that based on this evidence, “The Late Show with David Adesnik” wouldn’t be a ratings winner.

And finally, Pandagon’s Jesse Taylor is the latest to catch Washington Times editor Wes Pruden in a bare-faced lie. Pruden recently wrote: “The news from Iraq sounds mostly good to Americans because the American casualty numbers are down sharply from six weeks, or even a month, ago.” Sounding a lot like Campaign Desk, Taylor gives us the actual casualty count: “June — 42 Americans dead. July — 54 Americans dead. Unless Pruden’s talking about a different war.”

Zachary Roth

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Zachary Roth is a contributing editor to The Washington Monthly. He also has written for The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, and Talking Points Memo, among other outlets.