A Fierce Contest:

Just when you thought that the presidential campaign couldn’t get meaner—remember “Romney Hood” and “Obamaloney”—it did. And, in all likelihood, we haven’t hit rock bottom yet. To recap the events that transpired Tuesday: Vice President Joe Biden blasted Republicans for wanting to end new Wall Street regulations. “Unchain Wall Street,” Biden said, “they’re going to put you all back in chains.” The remark offended Mitt Romney’s campaign; in the meantime, the GOP candidate used the last stop on his bus tour to criticize the president, accusing the Obama campaign of being engaged in “division and anger and hate.” The president’s campaign fired back at Romney, saying his remarks were “particularly strange coming at a time when he’s pouring tens of millions of dollars into negative ads that are demonstrably false.” Then Obama brought up poor old Seamus, the most famous family pet ever to be strapped onto the roof of a car (most famous as in, have you ever heard of anyone else doing that to a dog?). So yeah, instead of substantive discussion of policy and ideas, we now have two candidates slinging insults like they’re running for high school student council president instead of for the highest office in the land. (Read more)

Canine Chorus: Speaking of Seamus, the band Devo—you probably know it from its mega hit “Whip It”—is releasing a punk rock song devoted to the Romney family’s 1980s dog. The song is called “Don’t Roof Rack Me, Bro (Remember Seamus)” and it will be released this month—just in time for the Democratic National Convention in early September. (Read more)

Romney’s Budget Plan: How will Romney get the country back on track fiscally? By making cuts–lots of cuts. Romney wants to trim the budget solely through cuts, so that means no major changes to the tax code. The problem is that many of the programs he would like to reduce —such as Amtrak and PBS—do not make up a significant portion of the budget. And the ones that do—defense spending, Social Security and Medicare, for example—the Republican presidential candidate doesn’t want to touch. In fact, in order for Romney to achieve his goals, he would have to slice the budget of every program that’s not Medicare, Social Security or defense by 40 percent. This, The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein writes, makes Romney’s proposed budget a “fantasy.” Coincidentally (or not), that’s exactly the same word others have used about his running mate Paul Ryan’s budget. (Read more)

Ryan and Adelson Meet: Just a few days after he was selected as the vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan traveled to Las Vegas and attended a meeting hosted by the famously wealthy Republican backer Sheldon Adelson. The casino billionaire, who really, really, really wants to see President Obama defeated in November, has pledged to spend $100 million in the race to do just that. The one thing we know about the meeting: It was definitely not a fundraiser. “It’s a finance event, not a fundraiser,” an aide said, repeating that same answer to another question. Because Adelson is a major donor to pro-Romney super PACs, Ryan can’t legally ask him for super PAC money. (But as Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart would probably add—wink wink). (Read more)

Do-Nothing Congress, Part II: The current U.S. Congress is on track to become less productive than the one in 1948 that President Harry Truman famously proclaimed the “do-nothing Congress.” In fact, it may become the least productive in the post-World War II era, according to a USA Today report. Just 61 of 3,914 bills introduced have become law, an abysmally low percentage. Last year’s Congress was also pretty unproductive, with only 90 bills becoming law. No wonder Congress’ approval rating is at a record low. (Read more)

Audio of the Day: “Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy seems to be a little too obsessed with Paul Ryan’s six-pack abs. On his cohost’s radio program “Kilmeade & Friends,” Doocy stopped by (post-workout) and said Ryan “could be the most ripped” vice presidential candidate ever. Also creepy: Kilmeade commenting on Doocy’s workout attire. TMI, people.

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