A pre-vice-presidential-debate edition:

Presidential Debate, take 3:

This was the week in which John Kerry was to rise from the dead and George W. Bush was to stumble into the abyss. But a funny thing happened on the way to the gestalt shift: Voters apparently watched last week’s presidential debate more closely, and thought about it more carefully, than the pack of press hounds who descended upon Miami to cover the affair. Even though a number of polls have Sen. Kerry either even with or ahead of the president in the horserace, state-by-state polls indicate the president is beginning to pull away. Slate puts the Bush electoral count at 348; electoral-vote.com has the president at 321-220 with 17 votes undecided. 

Furthermore the “internals” in most public polls – that is, the breakdown of questions other than “which candidate would you vote for if the election were held today?” – show the president with huge leads on such things as leadership, shared values, and the ability to deal with Iraq.  This underscores the point I made last Friday. John Kerry clearly outperformed President Bush in the first debate, but fired off enough questionable statements to strengthen voters’ doubts about his steadfastness. Hence, the president actually won. At least for now.

Halliburton:

Halliburton has become the unholy word in this political year. Democrats have invested the firm with every imaginable connivance and evil, from ripping off American taxpayers and Iraqi citizens to shorting military personnel of vital services. Most of this stuff is pure hooey. So is a recent Democratic ad on the topic. Remember this the next time you hear hair-on-fire ranting about “fear and smear.”

Values:

Meanwhile, more magma moving beneath the political surface, this time in the form of a growing religious revolt against sexual correctness. Check out this story of religious and political ecumenism. It appears religious leaders, like voters in many states, have had it with same-sex marriage proposals and are beginning to push back. Meanwhile, a court in Louisiana has stricken a traditional-marriage law approved last month by 78 percent of those casting ballots. The ruling is likely to fire up further debate about the role judges have assumed in settling controversial social disputes.

Share your thoughts with Tony.  E-mail him at  tonysnow@foxnews.com.