By Senior producer
msnbc.com
updated 4/18/2005 10:59:20 AM ET 2005-04-18T14:59:20

5 p.m. ET
It's Friday, finally. One show left for the week, and it's going to be a great one.  We'll hit some serious stories but then it's time to lighten up a bit.

Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, is joining a group of Christian leaders for a special campaign taking aim at Democrats who challenge the President's judicial nominations. The project is basically a video that will be played in Churches across America next Sunday. They are calling it "Justice Sunday."

In one sense, no harm no foul.  It's no surprise that Frist feels this way.  After all he is the Senator who first threatened the "nuclear option" should Democrats filibuster against the judges. Critics say that this raises a separation of Church and State issue and is a misuse of power.

There is more to the story, though, and it involves mainstream media coverage of "Justice Sunday."  Sure, we know that there are two sides to the conservative justice debates.  That happens to be old news.  But today, The New York Times gave this article the paper's second most prominent spot, the left column of the front page, and the headline read "Frist Set To Use Religious Stage on Judges Issue."  The paper made Frist's use of Church pulpits the story, as though that were novel or extraordinary in politics.  The fact is that politicians go to Church's to campaign on issues all the time.  Democrats just as often as Republicans, and maybe more.  We'll look at this story from all angles.

And then we ease into the weekend with some lighter stories.

Nevada lawmakers are trying to impose a 10 percent tax on strip clubs, and the club owners and strippers have enlisted the help of the ACLU to fight back.  They claim that exotic dancing and stripping are art forms protected under the First Amendment.  We'll discuss.

And later, my personal favorite, a look at the paranormal.  This weekend a remake of "The Amityville Horror" debuts in movie theaters.  It got us thinking about whether or not ghosts really exist.  Everyone on this staff has a unique take.  Some swear they have experienced inexplicable events or that their cousins saw a ghost once.  Others, like me, say it's all poppycock.  Either way, it makes for a really interesting conversation.  We'll be joined by a real witch and a scientist for a debate.

They're coming to get you, Martha.

12 p.m. ET
On the campaign trail leading up to the 2004 primary elections, Howard Dean accused Republicans of pulling voters away from more serious issues by focusing on "race, guns, God and gays."  A year later it seems that Governor Dean is resigned to incorporating those same messages into his own rhetoric as he stumps for the DNC.

As part of his new "50 state plan" to win back the White House and legislature for his party, he seems to be finding ways to get Jesus on his side and has also said that gun control is not on the table any longer.  Wanting the Democrats to appeal to religious Americans is logical and less controversial.  It's the slacking off on gun control initiatives that has some liberals scratching their heads.

Today, a debate on whether or not gun control is good for the Democrats.

And in Illinois, two pharmacists filed suit against Governor Rod Blagojevich, saying that being forced to sell morning after pills violates their religious freedom.  Similar battles have cropped up in other states.  It raises an interesting question: What comes first— being a pharmacist or being pro-life?  The ideological answer would of course be religious and moral convictions trump all, but pharmacists are professionals whose job it is to distribute medicine prescribed by doctors.  Passing judgment or refusing service seems counter to the job requirements.  But there are good points on both sides, and we will bring them to you.

And our own analyst Jack Jacobs has returned from Afghanistan and has lots to report on the progress there.

It's time to get Connected.  

E-mail me at TMaciulis@MSNBC.com.

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