Make no bones about it…the McCain campaign knows how to kiss some press corps ass. And the press? They clearly love it, based on all the free media the McCain campaign got out of the ribbing.

My favorite of the bunch of "my pal John" pieces? This one:

– John McCain: Grill Master Supreme (Balt.Sun), which includes this fine bit of journalistic digging:

…McCain says he loves to grill because it’s social and people can sit out on the deck, sipping wine and chatting with him as he does the cooking.

"I have so much nervous energy, it keeps me moving," said McCain, dressed in jeans, running shoes, a sweatshirt and baseball cap as he used tongs to flip the ribs….

But the real secret to his success, he said, is that he cooks the meat over a low heat, allowing the bone to get hot and help cook from the inside out. The 12 racks of ribs he cooked on Sunday took as long as an hour and a half until McCain deemed them ready for consumption. (They were excellent, all agreed.)

In case you were wondering, we are gearing up for the general election season wherein McCain’s credentials as "fun guy to have a beer with" are already being trotted out in the ever popular "damn, he throws a good kegger" press suck-up contest. Digby caught an amusing aside in a WaPo piece on the BBQ:

Oh, and btw, one question I really would like to have answered. Does McCain go anywhere without his faithful hound by his side?

Wearing a pair of jeans and a sweat shirt with a family photo printed on it, McCain pointed out a hawk’s nest on the property he’s owned for 24 years, and explained how his bone-down slow-cook grilling technique virtually eliminates the fat from his ribs. (Several reporters, skeptical by trade, remained unconvinced.) McCain’s springer spaniel, Sam, hovered near the tong-wielding senator, gnawing on a rib McCain had taken off the grill. McCain’s friend Sen. Lindsay Graham also gnawed on a rib, albeit with more delicacy.

Anyone else getting that delicate poodle-boy feel there with Huckleberry?

Here’s a clue press corps: this wasn’t a siesta from the campaign trail, it was a staged "we’re so confident, we cook ribs" show for the masses, and a cheap ploy to get some free press coverage for a campaign in real money trouble with the FEC. It was also an attempt to buy your affection cheaply, and you fell for it.

Jeebus, didn’t we get enough of this bullshit and phony show from the W crowd to last us several lifetimes? Wake the hell up, and read some Sun Tzu and Machiavelli while you are at it, you pack of slavering, rib-chawing, puff piece pals: McCain is not your friend, he just wants to use you for a while until he doesn’t need you any longer. You are friends with benefits — except the benefits are only for him…he’s just not that into you, unless there is something in it for him.

Want more McCain BBQ? Because there is a plethora of reportage on it this morning:

– Relaxed McCain Welcomes Press To Arizona Cabin ( AZRep)

– At McCain’s Retreat, Ribs With A Side Of Chi (WaPo)

– McCain Stands On The Other End Of A Press Grilling (WaPo)

— Chicken Hawk: McCain Meets Grill (Boston Globe)

– Back In Arizona, McCain Tends Grill (WSJ)

— McCain Shows Off His BBQ Skills (CBS News)

— Here’s the Beef (Natl. Journal — Hotline)

– No News, Just Ribs At McCain BBQ (CNN)

– Sunday At The Ranch With John: McCain Works His "Base" At BBQ (Newsweek)

Welcome to the first wave of McCain coverage for the general election. Feel the grill…stay for the slavering.

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NOTE:  A reminder that Scott Horton will be here at 3 pm ET/noon PT to talk about the Siegelman case and politicization of the DOJ for our First Monday series.  Hope you can join us for a live chat with Scott!