McCain calls the ethics bill a "sham and a joke".  "It is just the same as it was before." "There are some good things it" but "it was an opportunity because of the dissatisfaction of the American people… and I’m sorry that we have failed. … it will further contribute to the cynicism of the American people."

Iraq. Lots of words about the need to address defense authorization and Iraq. McCain says again that he will not pull out of Iraq.

Ryan Sager, NYSun. Asks about media consolidation and the Rupert Murdoch. McCain responds that this phone call (blogger only) is evidence that the media is not consolidating.

Jennifer Rubin, Human Events. What about Senator Stevens on the Appropriations Committee? McCain responded that Stevens should have the opportunity to defend himself.What does he think about the Judge Southwick situation? He thinks that his record is fine. The guy has served in Iraq, etc. McCain also says that he is even more proud of the Gang of 14. McCain says that the Gang of 14 deal no longer functions because Republicans aren’t in the majority. Says Southwick deserves an up or down vote.

Philip Klein, American Spectator. Al Qaeda in Pakistan. What is McCain’s response to Obama’s statements about Pakistan. There are a lot of ways of achieving military/political goals without bombing a sovereign country. That’s why we have the CIA, etc. "It would be catastrophic if we somehow destabilized Musharraf by encouraging radical extremists."

James Joyner, Outside the Beltway. Ethics Reform Bill. "Why didn’t we do something [about ethics] when we had the majority?" Are you seeing signs of progress, especially vis-a-vis Maliki? McCain says ethics is why we lost in 2006.  Saudis getting more concerned and involved. The real problem is that they are not sure that we are going to stay in the neighborhood. … "Some of the stirrings and more cooperation have been achieved because of some of the success that we have had militarily on the ground."   McCain thinks Patraeus will come back with a "small progress" report. "Placing political parties and political ambitions ahead of national interest," referring to Clyburn’s recent comment.

Betsy Newmark. Betsy’s Page. Increasing price of food products, what of subsidies for ethanol. Ethanol makes sense at this point economically, and pork and chickens are being effected. She follows up with a question on protectionism and China. McCain says that he is opposed to protectionism. Calls protectionism "one of the great dangers."

Paul Mirengoff of Powerline. (His daughter is a Romney staffer) How can McCain galvanize moderates? "Honesty and integrity," "views are honestly held and well-informed." Immigration was as damaging to him as any issue that he has ever encountered. Takes credit for failure to convince the American people that we are serious about securing the borders.

Patrick Curley, Brainster Blog. McCain voted against cloture and the bill. "This is a sham, this is a joke." Curley follows up with a question about whether it is really possible. McCain responds that transparency is the only option. Earmarks should be subject to a 51-vote challenge on the floor of the Senate.

Doug Lambert, GraniteGrok. DoD changed the status of two soldiers from unknown to "missing/captured." (formerly POW/MIA) Should our soldiers be classified as POW/MIA? McCain responds that POW status is important because it bounds the DoD to treat the family in certain ways. McCain is "strongly in favor of the presumption of POW status."

I asked about Obama’s statement about nukes and Romney’s about withdrawal. Obama, never preclude the use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances. If you believe that, save the taxpayers a bunch of money and get rid of all of our nuclear weapons. "Regard the use of nuclear weapons as the last resort." "What Patraeus would say is not that we can begin the withdrawal. He is going to say that we are seeing progress. That the Iraqi military will be able to take over gradually."