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Item from the March 11 New York Times:

Setback to Bush on Ports Deal Casts a Shadow Over His Agenda

WASHINGTON, March 10 -- President Bush's inability to hold sway over his party on the ports deal involving Dubai suggests that he faces trouble keeping Republicans together on his major policy initiatives this year, including overhauling immigration laws, approving new trade pacts and locking in his tax cuts, lawmakers and aides said on Friday.

...

In the Senate, Republicans also intend to hold votes on the politically charged topics of same-sex marriage and flag burning as the leadership reaches out to its conservative base.

My source on the staff of a leading Republican Senator slipped me this transcript of a secret Senate Republican legislative strategy session held last week in an undisclosed location.  The entire Republican Senate leadership was in attendance including a number of Senators who may be candidates for President in `08.

Read on for the transcript...

FRIST (R-TN): Okay, you all know why we're here.

MCCAIN (R-AZ): Ethics reform?

[ROOM ERUPTS INTO TWO MINUTES OF SUSTAINED LAUGHTER AND GUFFAWS]

FRIST: Stop it, McCain!  You're killing me!

MCCAIN: The same way you killed cats, Billy?

[MORE LAUGHTER, EXCEPT FOR FRIST]

BURNS (R-MT): Oh, lighten up, Billy!  You know John didn't mean anything by it... even though he already has Rove developing TV ads that start out with an ugly black-and-white photo of you, ominous music and voiceover that says, "Why did this man torture little kittens?"

[MORE HOWLING LAUGHTER]

HATCH (R-UT): Now, that's just not fair, Conrad.  You should--

STEVENS (R-AK): Shut up, Hatch. I hate the way you talk.  Make's my skin crawl.

CORNYN (R-TX): Mine, too.  You're creepy, Hatch.  And what's with the tie tack?

HATCH: I have always worn--

STEVENS: Shut up!  I'm getting the shivers!  The bad kind!

SANTORUM (R-PA): Can we get to the part where we talk about outlawing man-on-dog relations?

BUNNING (R-KY): No way!  I love my dog!  I have to go potty!

MCCONNELL (R-KY): KB, can you walk Bunnng to the can?

HUTCHISON (R-TX): Why me?

LOTT (R-MS): Cuz that's about all you're good for, honey.

HUTCHISON: Fine!  C'mon, Jim, I'll take you to the potty...

DOLE (R-NC): As a key leader, I move that we give ourselves a huge pay raise!

[LONG SILENCE]

WARNER (R-VA): No wonder you've been such a failure at the RSCC...

ALLEN: Idiot.

MCCAIN: Whoo, boy!  Look who's talkin'!

[SNICKERING LAUGHTER]

ALLEN: I am NOT stupid!

SPECTER (R-PA): You make Bush look like Einstein.

[MORE SNICKERING LAUGHTER]

HATCH: Now, that's just not fair, Arlen.  George Allen is a bright, capa--

STEVENS: Stop it!  Stop talking, Hatch! You're giving me the willies again!

LOTT: I have to admit, you've always creeped me out, too, Hatch.

HATCH: Well, I'm sorry--

[CORNYN SLAPS HAND ACROSS THE MOUTH OF HATCH, MUZZLING HIM]

HATCH: MMMPH MMMMPH

CORNYN: Somebody get me a roll of duct tape!

MCCONNELL: Is Hutchison back from the can with Bunning?

HUTCHISON: I'm back.

MCCONNELL: Go find a roll of duct tape.

HUTCHISON: Why do I always have to be the one who--

LOTT: Shut up and do what you're told, dearie.  And grab me a cup of coffee while you're at it.

[JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT) WALKS INTO ROOM, CARRYING A ROLL OF DUCT TAPE AND A TRAY WITH TEN COFFEES]

LIEBERMAN: Hi, gang, sorry I'm late!

STEVENS: Another guy whose voice makes my skin crawl!

[STEVENS DASHES AT LIEBERMAN, KNOCKS HIM DOWN, GRABS DUCT TAPE AND COVERS LIEBERMAN'S MOUTH WITH TAPE]

LIEBERMAN: MMMMFT!  MMMMMMM!

MCCAIN: I'm glad you did that, Stevens.  I was afraid Lieberman was gonna' try and french me like he did with Bush.  He's such a suck-up.

SANTORUM: Is Lieberman a heathen homo who is just one step from making love to a Golden Retriever?

SPECTER: You have a Golden, don't you, Rick?

SANTORUM: I... Well... I--

FRIST: Okay, look, everyone, we're here to outline our agenda for the rest of `06, or at least up until the election. Our nation is facing some grave tests, some serious, pressing isues, and we need to lead.

ALLEN (R-VA): Agreed.  We MUST outlaw flag burning!

[SHOUTS OF "YES!" AND "INDEED!"]

COBURN (R-OK): And we must stop the homos in their tracks!  They're threatening the very core -- the very health -- of our nation! No gay marriage!  We must ban it!

[MORE SHOUTS OF "YES!" AND "INDEED!"]

FRIST Anything else?

[LONG SILENCE]

GRAHAM (R-SC): Not that I can think of...

MCCAIN: Nothing comes to mind...

FRIST: Okay.  Meeting adjourned.  Let Lieberman and Hatch up off the floor, fellas.  And take the tape off their mouths.

[TEARING SOUND OF TAPE BEING TORN FROM THEIR MOUTHS]

LIEBERMAN: I still love you guys.  I do. Even though you tackled me and taped my mouth shut.

HATCH: Oh shut up, you weenie...

LIEBERMAN: OUCH!!!  Hatch stabbed me with his tie tack!

LOTT: God, I hate ALL of these people.  Every last one...

So there you have it.  The entire `06 agenda of the Republican Senators.

Stay tuned for their continuing (mis)adventures...

Originally posted to Bob Johnson on Sun Mar 12, 2006 at 12:31 AM PST.

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