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Oh-eight (D)

NBC's Chris Donovan notes that if "An Inconvenient Truth" is nominated this morning for an Oscar for best documentary feature, chances are good that its star, former Vice President Al Gore, will be walking down the red carpet come February.  But before he starts getting billed as an Academy Award nominee, it's important to note that he probably won't have to worry about writing an acceptance speech.  The Academy confirms that if the film is nominated, Davis Guggenheim, the film's director and executive producer, will be the sole nominee and the only person eligible to win an Oscar statuette, something all the parties involved sign off on when the forms are submitted.

Sen. Hillary Clinton is "in to win" -- and also to chat, notes NBC's Carrie Dann.  A professional lifetime in politics has given Clinton a stock of conversational tones, and she showed them off last night in her first of three webcasts streamed live on her campaign site.  In the 30-minute online production, Clinton's tone ranged from stern to chummy in her answers to strategically ordered questions submitted by audience members.  She checked the big boxes, addressing the war, health care and education costs, and energy independence.  She took some shots at the Administration's response to Hurricane Katrina and criticized Bush's "blank check" given to the Maliki government in Iraq.  Her harshest tone was reserved for Bush's stance on environmental issues.

The content of her responses remained similar to what we've heard before, but the online effort gave her the chance to do what pundits have been prescribing since she threw her hat into the ring on Saturday – show a hint of the human behind the media shellac.  We now know what her favorite childhood movie was ("The Wizard of Oz") and who she'll root for on Super Bowl Sunday (da Bears).  And she admitted that she has "the scars to show" the difficulty of her own missteps during her failed health care overhaul as First Lady. 

In his first remarks after his wife announced she's running for president, Bill Clinton said he's ready to support her in any way he can, the New York Post writes.  "'I can only tell you that I know her better than anybody on Earth, and she's got the best combination of mind and heart, the ability to lead and learn, to stand fast . . . and to make honorable agreements with people who disagree with her, than anybody I've known.'" 

The Washington Post follows on the Los Angeles Times report yesterday about Clinton's bid marking the likely demise of public financing of presidential campaigns.  "Clinton is the first since the current structure was created in 1974 to declare she will forgo public financing in the general election as well."  The story notes that McCain, who has "long championed the importance of campaign finance laws," now thinks "the current public finance system 'is not fulfilling its original goal' and is also contemplating opting out." 

The Chicago Tribune also writes about the upcoming money chase.  "To wage a serious presidential campaign in 2008, the ante is $50 million raised by Dec. 31 of this year, said one adviser to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).  And that is just to get a place at the table." 

Don't you forget about me: A press release from former Sen. John Edwards' campaign is headlined, "Edwards is the Democrats' best shot," and touts a Newsweek poll showing that "Edwards leads John McCain by the largest margin and is the only Democrat to beat both John McCain and Rudy Giuliani."

NBC's Ian Williams notes that a number of hacks have descended on Jakarta to try and find more about what Sen. Barack Obama (D) did and where he studied during his five years as a child in Indonesia.  This follows suggestions in conservative circles that Obama attended a radical madrassa and was less than truthful about this in his book.

At his press conference yesterday, Gov. Bill Richardson (D) stated, "I am not ready to make a formal announcement of my candidacy.  However, I am going to run," NBC's Lauren Appelbaum reports.  He stressed that he will keep the New Mexico legislative session a priority, and that his status as a presidential candidate can only help his state.  In response to a question about possibly changing his opinions on Iraq, Richardson responded, "I have consistently stated that the war in Iraq has to be affecting our national security.  I have always said we've had an obsession with the Iraq war, and that has caused us to miss opportunities in areas that really affect America's security."  On running against Sen. Hillary Clinton, whose husband he's close to, Richardson said: "I feel very strongly I can lead this country.  I feel very strongly I can bring this country together.  And that overrides any personal concern."

Sen. John Kerry is resisting pressure to make a decision about his plans as the pool of Democratic candidates grows.  "According to two people who have discussed the matter with Kerry in recent weeks, the deep desire he had to become president in 2004 hasn't abated.  Nevertheless, he realizes that another run would be difficult, given his diminished public standing -- and given the Democratic heavyweights who are already in the race," reports the Boston Globe.  Another factor Kerry has to consider is whether he'll run for re-election in the Senate: "In theory, he could lose in the presidential primaries but still have time to make the May 6 Senate campaign filing deadline."

The Wall Street Journal covers Sen. Chris Dodd toiling in the shadows of the star candidates.

In his own prebuttal to Bush's State of the Union address, former Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) yesterday took aim at the news that Bush might propose making health insurance benefits taxable income, arguing that Bush would be waging two wars: on Iraq and the middle class.  "It's the wrong policy," he said in a conference call with reporters, "and I sincerely hope the Democratic Congress rejects it in hand."