Romney leads -- as butt of late-night jokes. Herbert vs. Cornflakes. Huntsman at Press Club.
Happy Thursday. Mitt Romney is winning! At least he's winning when it comes to being the butt of late-night jokes. An analysis out this morning shows that nearly 20 percent of jokes about presidential candidates by Jay Leno, David Letterman, Stephen Colbert and other late-night hosts are focused on Romney. About 4 percent of jokes are aimed at Jon Huntsman. [Politico]
Topping the news: Salt Lake County property tax has topped $1 billion for the first time ever as the revenue picture starts to look up for Utah's second largest government. [Trib]
-> The fate of Ogden's police chief will not be up to the city's mayor-elect. [Trib]
-> Newt Gingrich leads his GOP rivals by double digits in three of the four early Republican primary contest states. [CNN]
-> Utah will have a full compliment of federal judges once the Senate confirms two nominees -- but that could be a while. [DNews]
Tweet of the day: From @governorherbert: "Starting a new feature on my feed, the Cornflakes Readers' Word of the Day. 1st entry: Antepenultimate bit.ly/vUgGDC." If you're just catching up, the Governor's Office and I got into a bit of a Twitter fight (A tweet-off, perhaps) after I poked fun at his office's use of the word "disambiguate."
-> For the record, the line came from The Boss, a.k.a. Mr. Dan Harrie, who responded thusly, "Sure it's a word on the online free dictionary (which also includes dialogue as a verb). But we're surprised Gov. Herbert -- who seems intent on cutting through dense regulations for business -- is so anxious to protect and defend grandiloquent bureaucratese." Fight, fight, fight...
Happening today: Jon Huntsman speaks at the National Press Club on "Restoring Trust." While other presidential candidates have spoken at luncheons in front of C-SPAN cameras and big audiences, Huntsman has opted to hold court in the Club's Fourth Estate Restaurant.
In other news: Jay Cobb becomes the latest GOP candidate running in the 4th congressional district. [Herald]
-> Herbert splits the Department of Community and Culture, sending several functions and about 60 employees to the Department of Workforce Services. [Trib]
-> The Utah Transit Authority is drafting new ethics rules to more clearly spell out how to handle conflicts of interest. [Trib]
-> Hatch blames government price controls for a new shortage in prescription drugs. [TheHill]
-> A proposed expansion of a Kane County mine would bring jobs but also pollution. [DNews]
-> Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, a Republican, and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, a Democrat, show up at a White House news conference to support Senate confirmation of Richard Cordray to head the new consumer watchdog agency created in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown. [Trib]
-> Speaking of, how about a pic of the day: AG Mark Shurtleff at the White House: [Photo].
-> UTA is beginning to charge for parking at one TRAX park-and-ride lot. [Trib]
-> Granite School District shifts its 14 year-round elementary schedules back to a traditional schedule with summers off. [Trib]
-> Pat Bagley's take on Herbert's push to disambiguate Utah regulations. [Trib]
-> The Pete Suazo Business Center honors three Utahns. [DNews]
2012 watch: Our Destiny PAC pollster Whit Ayers lays out the case on why investing in the pro-Huntsman SuperPAC is important. [Politico]
-> Sen. John McCain may endorse Mitt Romney. [TheHill]
-> Reuters does a good job of explaining what exactly a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate between Huntsman and Newt Gingrich would look like. [Reuters]
-> Romney says he may name his Cabinet before elected -- a practice that would actually be illegal. [USAToday]
-> Romney's latest ad appears to hit Gingrich on marriage. [USAToday]
-> Huntsman targets Wall Street as he tries to contrast himself with his GOP rivals. [Bloomberg]
-> Huntsman asks Republicans to give him another look. [WSJ]
-> Squishy? Nah. Huntsman dials back his concern over the science of climate change after a firestorm of critiques. [Politico] And a deeper look on exactly how Huntsman changed his position and then came back. [TPM]
-> Huntsman's SuperPAC has no plans to air ads in Iowa (which is kinda clear since he's not competing there). [DesMoinesRegister]
Where are they?
Correction: It was the Salt Lake City Council that approved the Broadway-style theater in downtown, not the County Council. Thanks to our eagle-eyed readers for keeping me straight.
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-- Thomas Burr
with editor Dan Harrie