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All-in-One Debate Blog: Round 4

Editor's Note: The following blog is a "best of" compilation from viewpoints expressed by Paul Begala and Robert Novak, co-hosts of CNN's political debate program "Crossfire," sprinkled with observations from comedian Jessi Klein from VH1's "Best Week Ever." We hope you enjoy this live presentation of tonight's presidential debate. Please send us your views by typing them in the "Share Your Comments" box to the right.

That's it

CNN's Paul Begala, left, VH1's Jessi Klein, center, and CNN's Robert Novak.
• Audio Slide Show: Debate history
• Formats

Posted: 11:10 p.m. ET
From Jessi Klein, VH1

Well, that was a real snooze-a-thon.

Bush didn't pee his pants or kill anyone, so my guess is that people will say it was a tie. Kerry was solid, in his usual, uninspired, A-student-that-memorized-the-text-book sort of way.

The most fun part was at the end when the families had to come up onstage and try to look all huggy and "normal," which tends to fail, since, like every family, both groups are clearly totally dysfunctional.

But after the kisses and handshaking they all kind of got in a line and waved to the crowd. It looked like the final bow at a mediocre community theater production of "Godspell." But that's basically what it feels like our country has turned into, so I guess that's appropriate. I don't mean to sound so pessimistic.

As Bush pointed out, I'm probably just making one of those "exaggerations." It doesn't have to be this way.

If we all pull together and really try to be the best country possible, we can be at least as good as the original cast of "Cats"which is to say, we can be magical.

Once more - undecided people, please just flip a coin already. Beatles or Rolling Stones. Bud or Bud Light. Nike or Adidas. We do this all the time. It's been really fun blogging with you all, so thanks for reading.

I'm hoping VH1 might return the favor to CNN and have Novak weigh in on "The Fabulous Life of Celebrity It Girls" or one of those. I think he'd have a lot to add. Maybe Begala could do a turn on "Best Week Ever." It would be fun, guys, I promise!

Let's be kind and wish some good will to the world, and maybe especially to the Red Sox who are down 3-0 in the 8th with one on. Vote!

Win for Kerry

Posted: 10:35 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Bottom line: Bush scored some points attacking Kerry on taxes. But he misspoke several times -- he misled us about Osama bin Laden and about Kerry's health plan. The post-debate fact checkers will have a field day with it.

Kerry cleaned Bush's clock on the basic kitchen table economic issues: jobs, health care, social security, minimum wage. I give the win to Kerry.

Did Kerry forget?

Posted: 10:34 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

Kerry must have forgotten stem-cell research.

No need

Posted: 10:32 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

Can we be spared this maudlin stuff about the wives at end the last presidential debate? By bringing up his mother, Kerry is playing every heart string now. This was a question and answer period that we really did not need. Can you believe that Kerry got through this debate so far without mentioning stem-cell research?

Talking about Laura

Posted: 10:31 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

Bush's answer to the wife question is good.

Human moment

Posted: 10:30 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Last question: Do you love your wife? Give me a break. We have the worst environmental record in American history, and it was never mentioned. The Supreme Court is likely to have several vacancies -- the candidates were never asked about it. But we know they love their wives. Great.

I will say, Bush is always good when he's talking about our wonderful First Lady. But this may be Kerry's most human moment. He referred to his mother without being maudlin, to his wife with great humor and humility. Well done.

Moved to tears

Posted: 10:28 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Bush has just mentioned Ted Kennedy for the third time. The first two times as a pariah, the third time to praise him. Kerry invokes McCain, Bush invokes Kennedy.

Bush is angry about Kerry mentioning McCain. He slapped the podium and nearly wept. McCain clearly gets to him

Great failure

Posted: 10:25 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Kerry just complimented Bush for his comments after 9/11. Then he turned the tables on him, reminding people that Bush squandered that unity. That Bush went from being a uniter to being a divider is one of the great failures of his administration.


Posted: 10:25 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

Bush's religion answer is an eloquent and sincere response. Kerry had to be sure that he got the Native Americans in.


Posted: 10:23 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Schieffer just asked Bush what role his faith plays in his life. What a softball. Why didn't he just ask, "Tell us how wonderful you are, sir?" Bush then referred to his faith-based initiative, by which I think he means Star Wars, his faith-based missile defense.

Answers in education

Posted: 10:21 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

Bush answers every question by talking about education.


Posted: 10:21 p.m. ET
From Jessi Klein, VH1

I know I'm very quaint in my old fashioned beliefs, but I really am a fan of separation of church and state and I wish we didn't have to hear about how much or how little our president or his opponent prays. Could we ask them something more relevant to our lives, like who they think is hotter, Ashlee Simpson or Jessica Simpson?

By the way, it's been about 30 minutes since Kerry reminded us Cheney's daughter is gay, he should get that in there one more time.

Keeping the faith

Posted: 10:21 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Kerry is very comfortable in his faith. Earlier he spoke of his Catholicism with real reverence. Now he's applying his faith to public policy, asking if we're really doing all we can to love our neighbors.

Man, this is good. A home run for Kerry on Bush's home field.

Presidents and NAACP

Posted: 10:20 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

Bush is not the first president not to meet with the NAACP as Kerry claims.


Posted: 10:18 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Bush just bragged he's met with the "Black Congressional Caucus" (it's the Congressional Black Caucus, sir) at the White House. Oooooo. Are we supposed to be impressed?

Bush got only eight percent of the African-American vote for a reason. He doesn't address the issues of jobs, health care, affirmative action and other issues of concern to African-Americans. And refusing to meet with the NAACP is shameful.


Posted: 10:16 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

Bush looks wishy washy on the assault-weapons ban.

Will Bush ever take a stand?

Posted: 10:16 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Kerry is hammering Bush for wimping out to the gun lobby on extending the assault weapon ban. Gun control is a tough issue for Democrats, but Kerry isn't backing down an inch. He's showing a lot more guts than Bush is.

By the way, just when has Bush ever stood up to a corporate lobby? Even once? When corporate lobbyists say jump, Bush is in the air before he can ask, "How high?" Kerry has taken positions at odds with labor, trial lawyers and other key Democratic constituencies. When will Bush ever stand up to his corporate patrons? He seems to believe in corporate infallibility.

Back to Iraq

Posted: 10:14 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Why, oh why are we back in Iraq? Bush seems determined to drag the debate and the campaign back into Baghdad. Not only are 138,000 troops stuck there, Bush is stuck there as well. He doesn't even have a rhetorical exit strategy.

Going back

Posted: 10:13 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

Kerry goes back on any question regarding national security to the need for alliances and mulilateralism.

Good questions

Posted: 10:12 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Schieffer is now asking about the backdoor draft. As a Kerry supporter I thought he was too rough on Kerry in his question selection at the beginning of the debate, but now I see he's being just as tough on Bush.

He's asked about minimum wage and the backdoor draft -- issues that Bush is vulnerable on. All in all, Schieffer is handling the very tricky issue of question selection well.

Minimum wage

Posted: 10:10 p.m. ET
From Jessi Klein, VH1

Kerry is sounding smart, articulate, and informed while talking about raising the minimum wage to $7.00 an hour. There's no way he's gonna be president.

In response, Bush just completely went off topic and started talking about education, how kids need to learn addition and subtraction. The thing is, you don't need much math when you're making $5.15 an hour. You can kind of add up your day's pay on your fingers and toes.

Judge for yourself

Posted: 10:09 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Kerry is hammering Bush for giving $89 billion to the top one percent while kids lost their after-school programs. You be the judge. Beautiful.

Texas two-step

Posted: 10:07 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Schieffer just asked Bush if he would overturn Roe v. Wade. Bush, the straight-talking Texan, dodged the question. Yapped about judges. As we say in Texas: "Don't pee on my boots and tell me it's rainin'."

Minimum answers

Posted; 10:06 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Minimum wage. Kerry is very strong on this. Bush seems annoyed. I want to hear a man you and I pay $400,000 a year -- and who spends 43% of his time on vacation explain why he doesn't think a working person is worth more than $5.15 an hour.

Bush's defense is to mumble something about Mitch McConnell. In 49 states people are turning to their spouses and asking, "Mitch McConnell. Wasn't he the bandleader on Johnny Carson?"

Bush is spending the bulk of his answer on minimum wage giving his education speech from 1998. So, your No Child Left Behind Act is the answer for jobs being shipped overseas, and for the low minimum wage. Next it's the cure for male-pattern baldness.


Posted: 10:05 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

Is there any doubt that John Kerry is a liberal?!

Porous argument

Posted: 10:03 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Bush is saying the borders are well protected. What the heck is he talking about? Our borders are porous. As Kerry points out, 4,000 people a day pour across the border. If Bush thinks he's doing a good job of policiing our borders, he's spent too much time in the sun down there.

How will Kerry respond?

Posted: 10:01 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

It's going to be interesting to see how Kerry reponds to the amnesty question, which is a very unpopular position.

OK, seriously, stop it...

Posted: 9:59 p.m. ET
From Jessi Klein, VH1

What is Bush widely grinning about while Kerry is talking? That's completely inappropriate. You shouldn't look like a Cleveland Indians logo when you're in the middle of a presidential debate and people are dying in a war. Ugh, Kerry can't stop doing it either. Speaking of baseball - still 1-0 Yankees, bottom of the 5th. Matsui is up.

Bush just said there should be a temporary worker card that will allow Mexican workers to come here and "mate up" with employers willing to pay them minimum wage. "Mate up"? Well, I guess it was his dad who talked about how much he loved "the little brown ones."

Kerry on target

Posted: 9:59 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Kerry is now speaking to "a typical American family." He says take home pay is the lowest since 1929, while the over-privileged are making more than ever. This is resonating with those blue-collar Reagan Democrats -- and it's definitely making those Republican soccer moms Bill Clinton brought into the Democratic camp nod their heads in vigorous agreement.

Bush's immigration program

Posted: 9:59 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

Bush's immigration program is dead in the water in Congress.

Sunday morning guts

Posted: 9:56 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Kerry just did a truly gutsy thing. He cited "Meet the Press" -- the Sunday morning interview show hosted by Tim Russert. To do that in front of Schieffer, whose very fine Sunday morning interview show trails Russert's in the ratings, takes a ton of guts. He didn't run a swift boat for nothing.

Strong, plain, clear

Posted: 9:55 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Kerry just said Bush's proposal to privatize Social Security is a disaster. He's using strong, plain, clear language. All over Florida, seniors are turning up their hearing aids. And they like what they hear.

Non-responsive on Social Security

Posted: 9:54 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

That is a non-responsive answer on Social Security by Kerry. Let's see if Bush effectively rebuts it.

Trust but verify

Posted: 9:50 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Bush just cited something called the Lewin Group to support the proposition that Kerry's health plan is a big government takeover. It's a charge he's made before. Trouble is, the Lewin Group says he's not telling the truth. John Sheils, vice president of the Lewin Group, told ABC's Jake Tapper yesterday Bush's attack "is not accurate."

I'm a little insulted that Bush is this cavalier about the facts. What does he think -- that we trust him? After his fibs, falsehoods and fabrications about Iraq, no American with a brain will ever trust him again. I'm like Ronald Reagan: trust but verify. It took me less than 5 seconds on Google to find the quote from Lewin saying Bush is misrepresenting their work. Give us a little credit, Mr. Bush.

Bush should address lack of answer

Posted: 9:48 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

Bush should point out that Kerry did not answer Schieffer's question about where the money would come from to pay for health care.

Finding his voice

Posted: 9:47 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Kerry is really clocking Bush on health care. He's found his voice on this issue, and Bush looks befuddled. Bush can't even entertain the notion that there's something wrong with a health care system that leaves 45 million Americans out. And when Kerry said Bush thinks it's fine to have increasing premiums, increasing co-pays, increasing costs, it really resonates.

Finally, Kerry says citizens should have access to the same health plan that politicians give themselves. Amen. I was on that federal employees health benefits plan, and it's better than what I've got now in the vaunted private sector.

Kerry owns this issue. Bush tried to make a joke about media reports that have said Bush is misleading people...then oddly stopped and chuckled to himself. All across America people are looking at their TV's like the old RCA dog looked at the phonograph -- head cocked, brow furrowed, with a quizzical look on their face.

As Pedro Martinez would say: Kerry is Bush's daddy.


Posted: 9:46 p.m. ET
From Jessi Klein, VH1

Bush keeps cracking jokes. He's really funny. He just made a crack about how we shouldn't necessarily trust anything the media says, then he started laughing at himself.

Remember when he did that hilarious thing at the Television Journalists dinner where he pretended to look under the table for WMD? Some people were pissed off because he was making light of the reason thousands of people have died, but I think that's because they didn't get it.

Bush is really more of a "comic's comic." Very sophisticated. Reminds me of Andy Kaufman.

Where's the answer?

Posted: 9:46 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

Kerry is not answering the question how to get the money to pay for his massive health care plan.

No rebuttal

Posted: 9:44 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

Kerry is factually incorrect. Getting drugs from Canada was illegal before Bush took office. And Bush is not rebutting it.

Rocketing health care costs

Posted: 9:42 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Bush just tried to laugh off any responsibility for the health care crisis in America. He stood in front of all of us four years ago and promised to make health care more affordable. Today, because of his policies, health care costs are up 59% and pharmaceutical corporation profits are up 38%. But Bush can laugh about it because he's got good health insurance -- and you pay for it.


Posted: 9:41 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

Bush is really well organized on this health-care answer. Buggy and horse days?!

One-sided question

Posted: 9:39 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Schieffer just asked Kerry about Catholic bishops who say Kerry's an unacceptable candidate because of his positions on abortion and stem cell research.

Will he ask Bush about the Pope's condemnation of President Bush's support for the death penalty and his war in Iraq? Why is it that only one side is being asked about the aspect of the issue where he's out of step with the Church?


Posted: 9:38 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

Bush's chuckles are not so good.

Faux Pas

Posted: 9:35 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

Really bad that Kerry brought up Dick Cheney's daughter.

Leave her out of it

Posted: 9:33 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

President Bush doesn't know whether he thinks being gay is a choice. It matters. If it's a choice, when did you choose? How did you choose?

Kerry injected Dick Cheney's daughter into the discussion. I really don't like that. I generally want politicians to put a human face on issues, but I really do not like Kerry mentioning Cheney's daughter. Leave her out of it.

Buggy and horse days?

Posted: 9:33 p.m. ET
From Jessi Klein, VH1

Bush just said "Buggy and horse days." Isn't it usually, "Horse and buggy"?

I know I'm nitpicking, but it's like saying "jelly and peanut butter" instead of "peanut butter and jelly."

In the meantime, Bush said the reason health insurance costs are on the rise is because health insurance is usually purchased by a third party and so we don't have choices.

I'm no specialist, but isn't he referring to people's employers? And what's wrong with that? I would have a lot of difficulty affording health insurance right now unless my employer paid for it.

Until the government pays for it, as is the case in most civilized countries, I'm pretty psyched that my employer pays for my insurance.

Still 1-0 Yankees.

Bad script

Posted: 9:31 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Bush tried one of his canned lines: "There's a mainstream in American politics, and you sit on the left bank." It's a little too forced. Bush is better when he's unscripted, so why has he been so carefully scripted?

No response

Posted: 9:30 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

He did not respond to the misstatements by Kerry on the taxation of corporations.

Enough with the chuckles

Posted: 9:29 p.m. ET
From Jessi Klein, VH1

Both Bush and Kerry appear to have decided it's okay to kind of laugh and smile during what they know is their "cutaway" shot to show they think the other person is saying something really "outrageous."

That's cocky and arrogant on both of their parts. I think the OC is outrageous, but I don't pretend to be above it by laughing at it. I laugh WITH it .

Strong ground on tax loophole

Posted: 9:28 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Kerry is on very strong ground when he talks about the tax loophole that rewards corporations for shipping jobs overseas. It is truly an outrage that working Americans are taxed, and then their tax dollars are given to corporations as a reward for shipping your job overseas.

Bush doesn't defend this outrageous tax loophole, because he can't. He's a prisoner of the corporate lobbyists who exploit that loophole.

Sister Souljah

Posted: 9:28 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

That's Kerry trying to give us the Sister Souljah answer. Let's see how Bush responds -- he could really knock it out of the park. George just got caught smirking.

Not Republican

Posted: 9:25 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

That's not much of a Republican answer

Tough luck

Posted: 9:25 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Schieffer just asked President Bush what he'd say to someone whose job just got shipped overseas. Mr. Bush's answer is basically, "Tough luck. You lost the job you need and want and love. Go to community college."

Bush has slipped off of jobs and is now yammering about education. If only he had been as interested in education when he was in school.

And if community college is the answer for joblessness, let's hope there's a good community college in Crawford, Texas.

Too much Washington-ese

Posted: 9:22 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Both of these guys are way too wonky. Both of them are speaking Washington-ese. Bush's "pay-go" joke about the budget fell flat. His sound bite blew up in his hands.

More definite

Posted: 9:21 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

That's a pretty good answer but Bush should have been more definite on how Kerry is not raising enough revenue to pay for his spending programs.


Posted: 9:21 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Bush just said Kerry's health plan would cost $5 trillion. Right. Why not just say, "Ten hundred gajillion, zillion dollars"?

Bush is simply not credible. He's so out of his depth on health care he looks like Mini-Me at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Flu vaccine?

Posted: 9:21 p.m. ET
From Jessi Klein, VH1

Bush just tried to say we have a flu vaccine shortage because a lot of our flu vaccine turned out to be contaminated, but then, on the other hand, turns around and says we have a health insurance problem because of too many health lawsuits.

If our vaccine turned out to be contaminated, shouldn't we sue someone? I want a flu shot damnit! Or at least a free box of Coldeeze.

I promise I'm not schilling for the manufacturer, but that stuff definitely helps. So does Echinacea, I find. The kind that comes in a liquid form. Put a few drops in O.J., drink it down, and you're all better.

I love Al Leiter in the booth with Tim McCarver and Joe Buck. Sometimes it's hard for a player to quickly become a good commentator, but he's done it. I've had a huge crush on Tim McCarver my whole life, by the way.

I'm sorry, but Al was just explaining how to throw a curve and that was far more compelling to me than either one of these two.

Does Bush have some creepy spittle in the corner of his mouth? Rove should whisper to him to wipe a bit.

On the attack

Posted: 9:18 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

Kerry is almost entirely negative. He can't answer a question without attacking President Bush.

Definitely no earpiece

Posted: 9:18 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Bush claims he never said he didn't think much about Osama bin Laden. Sorry, Mr. President, in a press conference on March 13, 2002, you said (and I quote):

"I don't know where he [bin Laden] is.You know, I just don't spend that much time on him... I truly am not that concerned about him."

Bush tried to say Kerry's claim "is one of those exaggerations." That was his attack on Gore, not Kerry. Has he hit the wrong button on his playback machine?

This performance should forever dispel the myth that someone is feeding Mr. Bush lines through a secret earpiece. Believe me, if someone was feeding Bush lines, he wouldn't sound so goofy.


Posted: 9:16 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

Flu vaccine production has nothing to do with the health care system.


Posted: 9:15 p.m. ET
From Jessi Klein, VH1

There's already a big problem - they're both wearing red ties. I've got two rich white guys with red ties and gray hair onstage.

Will I have to actually LISTEN now to tell them apart? Bummer. For the record, I just want to say I find Johnny Damon at least as attractive as Derek Jeter.

Just putting it out there. Kerry seems super comfortable right off the bat. He knows the script by now. He'll hunt the terrorists down and kill them, yeah yeah, blablabla.

How sad is it that we live in a world where a potential world leader sounds so blasť and bored when talking about killing people, no matter who they are?


Posted 9:14 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

This answer is a disaster for Bush, because he uses the "we", taking responsibility for the flu vaccine mess when he doesn't have to. But he has tried to recover by going on to tort reform.

Empty numbers

Posted: 9:13 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Kerry's opening answer about national security is putting Bush's record on defense -- underfunding homeland security, ending the COPS program that put 100,000 police on the street.

The President's answer begins with the poppycock that three-quarters of al Qaeda leadership has been killed or captured. When Wolf Blitzer asked Condi Rice about this, she admitted that's fewer than 100 people. Meanwhile, even our allies like Pakistan's president Musharraf have said Bush's policies are creating more al Qaeda members.

Kerry hammered Bush for letting Osama bin Laden get away. Much better than rising to the bait and defending his "nuisance" comment.

Nuisance quote

Posted: 9:09 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

Everybody guessed that Bush would use the nuisance quote as soon as possible.

Domestic issues, not national security

Posted: 9:08 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Schieffer is opening up the debate with a question about national security. Schieffer's a real pro, but we've already had two debates that were dominated by national security. He should be asking about domestic issues -- that's what he signed up to do.

Wait a minute

Posted: 9:06 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

I thought this was supposed to be a domestic debate.

Other locations

Posted: 9:05 p.m. ET
From Jessi Klein, VH1

Actually, if they're willing to have a debate at a big party school, why not stage it at another location that's equally wild?

Why not do it at a Chippendales? Male strippers have concerns and vote like everyone else. It would be so great to do a debate where Kerry and Bush have to face a crowd full of guys wearing bow ties and no shirts. Still 1-0 Yankees.

University of zoo?

Posted: 9:01 p.m. ET
From Jessi Klein, VH1

Arizona State University appears to be a total zoo, with lots of seemingly drink infused screaming and yelling.

I love that Wolf Blitzer has to pretend he doesn't notice that there's chaos behind him when you know he probably wants to sock these kids.

Good for them. Let kids be kids before they grow up to be world weary undecided voters who are so worn down by boring politicians that they're overwhelmed by ambivalence.

Teresa Heinz Kerry is apparently sitting with Michael J. Fox. I so wish that Laura Bush was sitting next to Gary Coleman, just for balance.

Oh, Yankees

Posted: 8:45 p.m. ET
From Jessi Klein, VH1

OK, Yankees just scored first. It's 1-0 in the bottom of the first. OK, I'll out myself - I'm a Mets fan.

I hate that the Yankees crowd is chanting "Who's your daddy?" It's so arrogant. The sad thing is, I just wish the Mets currently dominated over anyone so I could chant that at a game.

There's a rumor going around on the "internets," as Bush calls it, that he was wired for the first debate. I don't know if that's true or not, but it's a great rumor.

The thing is, if he was, shouldn't he have done a lot better? In any case, if he is going to be wired so he can communicate with someone smarter than he is, Kerry should be wired with someone more charming than he is, like Hugh Grant.

Actually, why can't we just have Bush debate Hugh Grant? That would be awesome.

Last dance

Posted: 8:40 p.m. ET
From Jessi Klein, VH1

Hello all, one last time... Well, here we are for the third and final debate. To be honest, I don't think I can take very much more of either of these guys or their respective pundits.

I just watched Anderson Cooper 360, (which I like) and Paul Begala and some conservative were facing questions from a very, raunchy young Arizona crowd, reminiscent of members of the studio audience from the early 90's syndicated dating hit "Studs."

Everyone was screaming and yelling and it gave me a headache. I know the spin out there is that "this is the deciding one," but as I've been trying to urge you all for the last few weeks, really, we all should have made up our minds months ago.

With only a little change-up in substance, I felt like debate # 2 was almost exactly the same as debate #1, and I think this one will be just more repetition of the same themes.

It's as if this is our third date with this pair, but after the first one, we pretty much know they don't have anything new or different to say.

Three dates is enough, right? Maybe we should see other people.

I also know a lot of you are probably flipping to the Yankees-Red Sox game. I sure will be, and I'll try to keep you up to date on the score.

Last night was nuts. All I'll say is, I'm generally an underdog fan. In the case of this election though, I find it hard to tell who's the true underdog when neither of them seems deserving of being on top.

Bush can't defend record

Posted: 8:38 p.m. ET
From Paul Begala, CNN

Finally. We're finally going to have a debate that's not dominated by President Bush's invasion of Iraq. To be sure, Iraq is a dominant issue, but there are 8 million Americans who don't have jobs. 45 million Americans don't have health insurance. Bill Clinton's enormous surplus is now George W. Bush's enormous deficit. Corporate polluters and oil company lobbyists are weakening our environmental laws. And America is more dependent than ever on dangerous Middle East oil. That's the Bush record. Let's watch him defend it.

My prediction: he can't, so he won't. President Bush will spend more time trying to tear down John Kerry than he will spend trying to defend his record. You can be sure that if he'd created jobs, balanced the budget and expanded health care he wouldn't have to spend his time attacking John Kerry. The more President Bush attacks Kerry, the more you'll know he has nothing to say about all the problems that effect your life.

Gearing up for the debate

Posted: 8:38 p.m. ET
From Robert Novak, CNN

I think what President Bush has to show is that John Kerry is not the ideological moderate, fiscally responsible centrist that appeals to middle class voters and, at the same time, avoid appearing to be unpresidential.

Sen. Kerry, on the other hand, has to appear smarter, more knowledgeable, but certainly not more liberal than Bush.

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