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Election news tops the front pages Monday, but it's not the latest on Hillary, Barack, Rudy and John. It's Nicolas and Ségolène who are making headlines.
The results of the first round of presidential elections in France are in, and conservative Nicolas Sarkozy and socialist Ségolène Royal are the winners, setting up what the New York Times, in its lead story, calls "a classic left-right contest" in run-off lections next month.
All the papers make note of the exceptionally high voter turnout of 85 percent, the highest since 1964, signaling the great interest in the race to replace President Jacques Chirac and bring to power the first French president born after WWII, including possibly the country's first woman president.
The New York Times also gives front-page coverage to the troubled presidential election in Nigeria, which was widely condemned by election observers and rejected by the two leading opposition candidates.
The election, the results of which have not yet been announced, was "marred by chaos, violence and fraud." The Times says the vote "represents a significant setback for democracy in sub-Saharan Africa at a time when voters in countries across the continent are becoming more disillusioned with the way democracy is practiced."
The Washington Post cites numerous reports of "blatant ballot-box stuffing, intimidation and other apparent efforts to skew results in favor of the party of outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo."
The U.S. elections aren't entirely shut out on page one. The New York Times also includes a report on how debates are losing their luster in the crowded presidential campaign field.
The Times says the candidates are being besieged with so many invitations for debates -- from local and state party committees, newspapers and TV stations, and advocates for various issues -- that they're being forced to turn most of them down.
"It's a mess," said John Edwards' deputy campaign manager. "Debates are important, but in these big multicandidate races they end up not being an exchange of ideas, but just an exchange of sound bites. They have become a distraction."
Heated Words Over Global Warming
The White House Correspondents' Dinner earned widespread yawns this year for the lame and safe choice of "Carson-era" comic Rich Little as the evening's entertainment, following last year's incendiary performance by Stephen Colbert.
Al least there was some drama off stage.
The Washington Post and New York Times report on a heated run-in between President Bush's political guru Karl Rove, on one side, and singer Sheryl Crow and Hollywood environmental activist Laurie David, on the other.
Apparently, Crow and David approached Rove's table at the dinner to urge him, they later said, to take "a fresh look" at global warming. That led to a shouting match, some of the details of which are in dispute. But, the Times says, both sides agree that Crow told Rove, "You can't speak to us like that, you work for us." To which Rove responded: "I don't work for you, I work for the American people." Crow and David fired back, "We are the American people."
Crow and David said Rove "exploded with even more venom" as their argument continued.
Said Rove of David: "She came over to insult me, and she succeeded."
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