Even though Sen. John Edwards did not bow out of the presidential race until an hour ago, the campaign press echo chamber has been reverberating with “Kerry-Edwards” veep talk for days.

Inside these articles you’ll find a myriad of similar anecdotes, as reporters try to find the answer to the question that’s apparently on their mind (if not yours): A) Do these two guys even like each other? and B) Can we determine this via an examination of their dinner habits?

On the first question, there is no consensus. Publicly each man is affable toward the other, we are told, and it’s easy to find mutual acquaintances of the two who say they are friendly; it’s also easy to find mutual acquaintances who say they aren’t friendly; and easiest of all to find those who say they personally don’t have a clue if John and John are friends.

Regardless, something the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Charlotte Observer, and USA Today are sure about is that three years ago the two dined at the popular Washington D.C. restaurant, Olives, after Al Gore chose Sen. Joe Lieberman over Edwards and Kerry for his running mate in the 2000 election.

Everyone but Jill Lawrence of USA Today also mentions that in 2002 (or 2003 if you’re reading the Los Angeles Times) after enjoying a classic Southern fish fry hosted by Rep. Jim Clyburn the two senators retired to Gov. Jim Hodges’ mansion and talked late into the night over cocktails.

Today’s Los Angeles Times has the only true scoop bearing on this pressing question: “More recently, Kerry — who lives in the same Washington neighborhood as Edwards — chanced upon his rival as Edwards was walking to dinner with his family in Georgetown. Kerry pulled his car over, got out and chatted at some length with Edwards, who later told aides he thought it was a nice gesture.”

Hey — presidential running mates have been chosen before on lamer rationales than that. (Remember Dan Quayle?)

Thomas Lang

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Thomas Lang was a writer at CJR Daily.