* Rove testifies for several hours in the CIA leak case; testimony "focused almost exclusively on his conversation about Plame with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper in 2003 and whether the top aide later tried to conceal it." [WP, NYT, W$J]

* Tony Snow could be "the first outsider to become part of Bush's revamped inner circle"; aides admit there is "broad agreement that the first-term strategy of largely ignoring the mainstream Washington media was a mistake." Dan Bartlett: "There is a lot of value added in Tony coming on board and helping us internally with his own views and ideas." [WP, NYT, USAT, WT]

* New spending bill brings cost of the war in Iraq to $320B; total cost of Afghanistan and Iraq missions will exceed the price of the Vietnam War. [WP]

* Approval of Congress in NBC/WSJ poll has dropped 11 points in the past month; respondents are increasingly pessimistic about the direction of the nation and the economy. 77% are "uneasy about the economy" and 44% are tired of partisan fighting. Pollster: "You have never seen such a sour mood in the country. It is sour, sour, sour." [MSNBC, W$J]

* Senate report concludes FEMA should be abolished because problems are "too substantial to mend." [WP, NYT, USAT]

* Rumsfeld, Rice visit Baghdad after prodding from Bush; "they were embracing perhaps the last chance the Bush administration had to turn around public opinion at home and to ensure that Iraq has a viable political future." [WP, NYT, W$J]

* High gas prices "could dovetail with growing public concern over the war in Iraq to give Democrats an opening in several key races"; partisan finger-pointing is another consequence. [WP, WP]

* Senate votes to trim $2B from Iraq war spending to spend on border security; "the action was unusual because Republicans have been adamant that the war is the highest priority and have been quick to attack Democrats who show signs of wavering on the issue." [NYT, W$J, WT]

* Senate Finance Committee rethinks recent tax breaks to oil companies. [NYT]

* Republicans find constituents have other concerns than the ethics bill and the lobbying scandal. [WP]

* Ari Fleischer: "The briefing is no longer a briefing, it's a TV show... The two sides talk past each other, and the viewing public gets to watch a good fight." [WP]


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