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BACK TO WORK

Three work days off, plus the weekend -- a five-day break from 30 Rock and now back in the saddle again.  Allow me to thank Lester Holt for so ably filling in. What I didn't see live I watched on DVR last night.  There is no test of character quite like loading up the family car and driving to Maine and back over the July 4th holiday.  To those of you who were with us in the bumper-to-bumper traffic yesterday on Routes 495, 90, 84 and 91 -- I felt your pain, and am still feeling my own. I am just now able to fully extend my legs and flatten out my hands from the death grip I had on the steering wheel.

Back to the job at hand: tonight we're looking at indicators that support for the war in Iraq may be shifting, especially among some crucial Republicans. We will also mention the President's most recent claim of executive privilege.  We'll look at the heat and fire risk across the country as well.  We have stories from Iraq (correspondent Jane Arraf) and Australia (Anne Thompson) and we will look at Boeing's new creation -- the jetliner with the curved wings: the new 787.


TODAY IN HISTORY
Sixty years ago today, Princess Elizabeth announced her engagement to her third cousin: Lt. Philip Mountbatten.  At the time, the future Queen of England was 21 years old, a year younger than Prince Harry is now.

Forty years ago today: Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara visited Vietnam, where he entertained a request from Gen. William Westmoreland to boost U.S. troop strength by as much as 100,000 above the 464,000 already committed as of July 1967.

Twenty-seven years ago this month, President Carter directed FEMA to help with the heat wave that was gripping much of the country.  1,150 American deaths were attributed to the heat by late July, 1980.  During that month, almost every single broadcast of Nightly News carried a story about the heat.

Please take time to read today's Medal of Honor recipient biography.

It's great to be back, and I hope you can join us for tonight's NBC Nightly News.