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The Range

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Swallow This!

America can be proud--we finally took back the world crown in stuffing our guts full of cheap sausage! Yes, our new national hero is Joey Chestnut, who managed to swallow 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes in Nathan's International July Fourth Hot Dog Eating Contest. After beating six-time winner Takeru Kobayashi, who suffered a stomach-turning "reversal" at the end of the competition, Chestnut told The Associated Press: "If I needed to eat another one right now, I could."

The Range regrets that we caught the so-gross tail end of the contest on ESPN--and choked back a bit of vomit ourselves--while channel surfing. Our favorite line from the play-by-play: "This would be the greatest moment in the history of American sports if Chestnut can bring the belt home to Coney Island!"

Speaking of gastric distress: George W. Bush celebrated the nation's birthday a couple of days early by giving I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, a get-out-of-jail free card after a federal judge said ol' Scooter had to report to prison after being convicted of perjury and obstructing justice in the special investigation about who leaked the identity of a CIA operative to ... oh, it's so complicated. Just remember this: The Fourth of July is all about freedom, right?

Speaking of the Bush administration's legal problems: The White House said it would not honor congressional subpoenas designed to force former White House counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor to testify before the House and Senate judiciary committees to see if anyone can remember anything about why Attorney General Alberto Gonzales fired all those U.S. attorneys. Next step: contempt-of-Congress charges, which could lead to prosecution by-- you guessed it--Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who could just forget about the whole thing.


Jumping the Tracks

And we thought things were bad for the Straight Talk Express last week, what with the miserable poll numbers, the lousy fundraising figures and the staff layoffs.

Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign slipped into more disarray this week when McCain reportedly blew his top and fired campaign manager Terry Nelson and top strategist John Weaver.

The Washington Post reported: "An angry McCain reportedly confronted Weaver and Nelson about the campaign's operations, particularly the amount of money that was being spent even when it was clear funds were tight. The final confrontation, coming after McCain returned from a visit to Iraq over the weekend, ultimately led to their departures, according to sources."

McCain issued a statement praising both men.

"Terry is a consummate professional, who has ably lead (sic) this campaign through a challenging political environment," McCain press-released. "John Weaver has been my friend and trusted counselor for many years and to whom I am greatly indebted. In the days and weeks ahead this campaign will move forward, and I will continue to address the issues of greatest concern to the American people, laying out my vision for a secure and prosperous America."


Blah, Blah, Blah

So who blabs more, men or women? Turns out both genders are equally talkative, according to Matthias R. Mehl, a UA assistant professor in psychology who co-authored a study published last week in Science. To get the answer, Mehl and his colleagues hooked microphones up to nearly 400 male and female college students and recorded every word they said. The end result: Women said an average of 16,215 words a day, while men said an average of 15,669. Man, that's a lot of yakking.

Mehl noted that the real difference wasn't between genders but between individuals. The most talkative guy in the study used 47,000 words a day, while the least talkative just said 500 words.

Mehl admits that studying only college students could raise concerns about the study, but argued that it should at least put to rest a previous theory that women said an average of 20,000 words a day while men said an average of 7,000.

Our observation: We'd say a lot less if we knew every word we said was being recorded.


How Hot Was It?

It's another July in Tucson--we've got soaring temps, fierce winds, power outages and a lightning-sparked blaze on the Tohono O'odham reservation west of Tucson that briefly threatened Kitt Peak National Observatory.

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