A little fear-politics, a little 9/11 exploitation, from the guy whose best-bud choice for Homeland Security boss is rushing out of town, one step ahead of the sheriff, with Rudy's letter of recommendation in hand.

Sound familiar? Fear-politics? Exploitation of 9/11? A whiff of scandal? Will Rudy change his middle initial to W?

McCain has already locked up the Bush 43.5 mantle. Lot of good it's doing him. So Rudy plays the Bush 43.75 card. They never learn.

There are glorious temptations to return the low blow in kind to Rudy. But the game is early and our standards are higher than his. We will stick to the knitting.

Rudy is the guy who before 9/11 allowed the New York City communications system to fall so far behind it was a disaster on 9/11.

Not long after 9/11, there were workers at ground zero and other New Yorkers, including many firemen, who were not happy campers with his management (and who will not be wearing Rudy buttons in 2008).

Then, of course, Rudy leaned on Bush to name Bernie Kerik to Homeland Security. Bush, never one to pass by an opportunity to appoint a scandal-ridden nominee, at first agreed, then headed for the hills as Bernie headed for his attorney and Rudy headed for his PR firm for new talking points.

Rudy, who now campaigns as the Bush champion on Iraq policy, uses the Bush tactic of cheapening 9/11 for partisan gain.

That dog stopped hunting last November. Nice try, Rudy. Nice try, Dick. Republicans still don't get it. Bush imitators are like a toothache looking for a tooth to crawl up. Americans want another Bush about as much as they want four more years of root-canal work.

Next thing you know, Fred Thompson will start sounding like Scooter Libby. As a matter of fact ...