“One hesitates to be too hopeful,” Megan wrote earlier today, pointing to HuffPo’s “HELLO ECONOMY, GOODBYE LIPSTICK” headline and other evidence suggesting that campaign coverage may, possibly, be taking a turn for the serious and substantial.

Here’s a similar headline now from the AP: “Forget the lipstick, economy takes over campaign.” (Is that an AP “Note to Self?”)

Here’s hoping. But then there’s this in the AP piece:

The presidential campaign had taken an odd turn to side issues - Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere” and moose-hunting, Obama’s crack about lipstick on a pig - after McCain’s surprise pick of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. There was a fascination with huge crowds attracted by Palin. But the collapse and merger of some of Wall Street’s legendary companies forced a return to reality seven weeks before the election.

Hold on. The “”Bridge to Nowhere” (Palin’s repeated, factually-challenged claim to have said “Thanks, but, no thanks” to it) may, in the grander scheme of things, be a “side issue” but it is not on the same level as ‘PigGate, which I’d call a “side-show non-issue.”

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.