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Much to talk about

Consider tonight's possible lineup of stories: National statistics showing the first hard evidence that the drop in cancer rates was indeed real; the beginning, in earnest, of the debate over the war strategy going forward (and the presidential politics that permeate it); the weather, and all that it entails (one of our correspondents, Janet Shamlian, had a flight diverted because of it today and couldn't even get to where she was needed); luckily, we have all the other bases covered tonight, (Don Teague has done a superb job reporting for us this week) including the crippling ice, the ruined citrus crop and the closing of "the 5" in California  -- a highway that seldom closes due to snow and ice. In other health news, there's the virulent and fast-moving stomach virus racing across the country, there's oil and gas prices, and we could go on and on. As we always seem to, we'll put it all into something approaching a logical order and find a way to fit it all onto the air. And to those who are positively overheating over politics: Let's take a breath and let's remember: There are two distinct subject areas at work here. There's the business of brave Americans who volunteered for duty fighting and dying in foreign conflicts (and the sincere debate over their mission and safety), and there's politics. It's going to be a long haul until Election Night 2008.


HOBSON AND SHORT TAKES
- Upon re-reading what I wrote on deadline yesterday, it appears to me that I misused the rugged old expression "Hobson's Choice" when describing last night's news lineup. It certainly generated more conversation than some of the Iraq war funding debates in the Senate in recent years.

- Is it possible Warren Beatty is still talking at the Golden Globes?

- After watching American Idol for all of five minutes last night, a question: Is it possible that the reason why we see so many atrocious would-be contestants storm off, shocked and in tears over being rejected, is perhaps because they've never been told before that they are bad at anything?

- Please read in on the NBC World Blog.

- The Doomsday Clock is among the more interesting stories of the day.

- Also of note, the controversial remarks by the Attorney General concerning federal judges. It's receiving a pretty robust response in the blogosphere.

ABOUT TONIGHT
A few hours from now I will take the stage at Columbia University to accept an award on behalf of some great people. Since our coverage of Katrina, the NBC Nightly News team has been awarded four straight awards which, when taken together, in terms of their prestige, may not have a precedent: The Edward R. Murrow Award, The Emmy, the Peabody, and as of tonight: the Columbia DuPont. I don't mean any immodesty in pointing this out, for I do so on behalf of the extraordinary people who work here and yet aren't known to you the way I am: The producers, camera crews, videotape editors and coordinators, satellite operators, technicians, truck drivers, and even the police officers who kept us safe in New Orleans. They all had their very best days when we needed them to, and I'm in awe of each of them.  That's pretty much what I plan to say tonight: No one does what we do for a living any better than this team did it during those dark days. I get to be the one who walks to the podium and accepts the various statuettes and batons and hunks of Lucite. Beyond their physical presence as shiny tokens of a job well done while under duress, they all speak to hard work and dedication by the very best in the business.

We hope you can join us for tonight's broadcast.