You think it’s easy working the Veepstakes beat? Opening wide for — and presenting as news — those crumbs tossed out by the campaigns (Obama “will in all likelihood appear with his newly named running mate on Saturday in Springfield, Ill.” but we didn’t, please note, say it would definitely be their first joint appearance)? How many respectable synonyms do you know for “speculation?” How about “current conjecture?” That’s Elisabeth Bumiller’s coinage in today’s New York Times — “current conjecture has settled largely on three possibilities” for McCain’s No. 2: Lieberman, Pawlenty, and Ridge.

Who, apart from Bumiller, is helping that changeable “current conjecture” get all nice and “settled?” “Some social conservatives,” “other conservatives,” “one Republican strategist close to the campaign,” “associates of Mr. McCain,” “some Republicans,” “Republicans”…. and Rush Limbaugh.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.