updated 3/5/2009 12:59:24 PM ET 2009-03-05T17:59:24

Happy Wednesday!

Hello everybody and welcome to the Shuster "Daily Briefing" for March 4, 2009. The war of words between the White House and Rush Limbaugh took another interesting turn this afternoon. Limbaugh publicly challenged President Obama to a debate. Even Rush seems to acknowledge the symbiosis or benefit that both he and the White House have in keeping this fight going. Politico White House reporter Jonathan Martin wrote a terrific piece on this today.

We will start the show with Jonathan and get an update on the latest attacks/counter attacks. 

Also, we will then focus on the dilemma for Republicans who find themselves caught in crossfire. As the Washington Post put it today, the GOP lawmakers are under fire to denounce Limbaugh's bombastic statements, but don't want to get hammered by Rush or his 20 million radio listeners.

We will talk about this dynamic with former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.

In our "Follow the Money" segment, all of us at 1600 were struck by a remarkable story in today's Wall Street Journal. Last year, as Merrill Lynch was crumbling, the top ten executives at the financial firm each collected $10 million in cash and stock. Another 149 people received $3 million or more.

Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., is demanding an investigation. Criminal? Civil? We will ask him.

Later in the show, we will talk with Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., about the way some of the financial institutions interested in receiving federal bailout money are now re-arranging their CEO pay to work around limits imposed by Congress. 

In "Hypocrisy Watch," Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, is condemning the White House for keeping the fight going with Rush Limbaugh. Did Boehner condemn Limbaugh?  Nope.

Also tonight, President Obama rolled out a new plan to tackle waste, fraud, and abuse in government contracts.

Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., took advantage of the focus on wasteful spending to hammer some of the earmarks contained in a $410 billion omnibus spending bill working its way through the Senate.

We will chat about these related topics with our panel: AP reporter Beth Fouhy, Republican strategist John Feehery, and Democratic activist/comedian Barthunde Thurston. Do you want them to answer your question on-air?  Send the question to our Twitter account.

Finally, we were on the air earlier today when British Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave a remarkable speech to a joint meeting of Congress. He urged the United States Congress and citizens to work in tandem with nations around the globe to solve the financial crisis and come up with new regulations for financial institutions. Brown also announced an "honorary Knighthood" for Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. So, from now on, the lion of the U.S. Senate will also be known as "Sir Edward Kennedy."  Patrick Kennedy was on hand for the speech today and there was a remarkable moment afterwards when he and the Prime Minister embraced. We will show you the video tonight.

"Quote of the Day" comes from Winston Churchill:

"A man does what he must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality."

Thanks in advance for watching tonight's show.  "1600" airs at 6 p.m. in Washington, D.C.; 5 p.m. in Des Moines; 4 p.m. in Great Falls; and 3 p.m. in Portland.

Shuster


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