(Welcome Air America listeners. If you’d like to cosign the complaint about John McCain to the FEC, you can do so here — jh)

Why is nobody on the barbecue circuit busting McCain on his boners? Somerby pulls back the curtain:

CATCH A RISING STAR: If mordant laughter is what you enjoy, we hope you watched last evening’s Hardball.

It’s always amusing when Big Major Scribes pretend to discuss the press corps’ own conduct. Last night, Chris Matthews triggered such a “discussion.” Two top pundits had been called to help settle a question—a question which is quite important:

MATTHEWS (3/26/08): John McCain had the press in his pocket, some said, with his “Straight Talking Express” eight years ago, but does he have a different straight talk with the press today than he has with the average voter? [sic]

Jennifer Donahue is with the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. And the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, a rising star in our business, he recently profiled McCain.

I got to go to you, Ryan. Is he still getting good press?

Visibly, Lizza flirted with climax during that “rising star” business. But Matthews had asked a very important question: Does the press corps fawn to McCain? In response, a rising star started off in this manner:

LIZZA (continuing directly): I think, for the most part, yes, he is. He has had a couple of bumps. I mean, the dynamic is that everyone is paying attention to Hillary and Barack, and ignoring McCain. So, when McCain does something like go to Iraq and misstate—you know, confuses the Sunnis and the Shiites—it sort of makes the news. It is buried inside. You know, we talk about it a little bit. But it doesn’t get the amount of play it would if we were in the general election race, where you have that head-to-head dynamic.

Don’t worry: They’ll murder McCain in the fall! “I mean, for stuff to really take off, you have to have the opponent mentioning it and really, and really highlighting it,” Lizza continued. “And because we don’t have a real head-to-head general election yet, he is basically doing—”

At that point, mercifully, Matthews broke in. Lizza was making a common claim: If the Dems aren’t trashing McCain for his howlers, well really, our hands are tied.

You thought it was the war hero thing, right? Maybe the "maverick?" No, it’s because they’re only capable of transcribing an observation if someoene else makes it.

The shameless, open acknowledgment of that is rather gobsmacking.