I suppose it's long past obvious that McCain doesn't play like this anymore, but surely the year 2000 version would have denounced Ralph Reed--a chief villain in the Abramoff scandal that McCain doggedly pursued--and declared his presence and assistance unwelcome at his fundraiser, no?

Quick Reed flashback here:

McCain, as chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, launched an investigation of Abramoff's tribal lobbying that turned up a mountain of e-mails, including some between Reed and Abramoff.

The e-mails revealed Abramoff's corrupt dealings with politicians, as well as conservative religious and advocacy groups. Reed often participated in Abramoff's business schemes, telling him in a 1998 e-mail after stepping down as head of the Christian Coalition: "I need to start humping in corporate accounts!"

E-mails and testimony before McCain's panel showed that Reed, who once branded gambling a "cancer" on society, reaped millions of dollars in tribal casino proceeds that Abramoff secretly routed to him through various non-profit front groups. Abramoff, a lobbyist for the tribes, paid Reed to whip up "grassroots" Christian opposition to prevent rival tribes from opening casinos.

Abramoff sometimes routed his money to Reed through a group called Americans for Tax Reform, run by conservative anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist. Norquist lately has been attacking McCain's record on taxes, placing robo calls to voters in New Hampshire.

Reed's much-publicized role in the Abramoff scandal cost him the 2006 Republican primary for Georgia lieutenant governor--the first rung on what was widely expected to be a climb into national politics.

--Michael Crowley