NPR Politics presents the Lunchbox List: our favorite campaign news and stories curated from NPR and around the Web in digestible bites (100 words or less!). Look for it every weekday afternoon from now until the conventions.

Convention Countdown

The Republican National Convention is in 4 days in Cleveland.

The Democratic National Convention is in 11 days in Philadelphia.

NASA has released the first picture of Jupiter taken since the Juno spacecraft went into orbit around the planet on July 4.

The picture was taken on July 10. Juno was 2.7 million miles from Jupiter at the time. The color image shows some of the atmospheric features of the planet, including the giant red spot. You can also see three of Jupiter's moons in the picture: Io, Europa and Ganymede.

The Senate is set to approve a bill intended to change the way police and health care workers treat people struggling with opioid addictions.

My husband and I once took great pleasure in preparing meals from scratch. We made pizza dough and sauce. We baked bread. We churned ice cream.

Then we became parents.

Now there are some weeks when pre-chopped veggies and a rotisserie chicken are the only things between us and five nights of Chipotle.

Parents are busy. For some of us, figuring out how to get dinner on the table is a daily struggle. So I reached out to food experts, parents and nutritionists for help. Here is some of their (and my) best advice for making weeknight meals happen.

"O Canada," the national anthem of our neighbors up north, comes in two official versions — English and French. They share a melody, but differ in meaning.

Let the record show: neither version of those lyrics contains the phrase "all lives matter."

But at the 2016 All-Star Game, the song got an unexpected edit.

At Petco Park in San Diego, one member of the Canadian singing group The Tenors — by himself, according to the other members of the group — revised the anthem.

School's out, and a lot of parents are getting through the long summer days with extra helpings of digital devices.

How should we feel about that?

Police in Baton Rouge say they have arrested three people who stole guns with the goal of killing police officers. They are still looking for a fourth suspect in the alleged plot, NPR's Greg Allen reports.

"Police say the thefts were at a Baton Rouge pawn shop early Saturday morning," Greg says. "One person was arrested at the scene. Since then, two others have been arrested and six of the eight stolen handguns have been recovered. Police are still looking for one other man."

A 13-year-old boy is among those arrested, Greg says.

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After an international tribunal invalidated Beijing's claims to the South China Sea, Chinese authorities have declared in no uncertain terms that they will be ignoring the ruling.

The Philippines brought the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, objecting to China's claims to maritime rights in the disputed waters. The tribunal agreed that China had no legal authority to claim the waters and was infringing on the sovereign rights of the Philippines.

Donald Trump is firing back at Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after she disparaged him in several media interviews. He tweeted late Tuesday that she "has embarrassed all" with her "very dumb political statements" about the candidate. Trump ended his tweet with "Her mind is shot - resign!":


'The Campaign': Just How Low Can Politicians Go?

Aug 9, 2012
Originally published on August 9, 2012 5:49 pm

There's a devil-may-care recklessness to Will Ferrell that sets him apart from other screen comics — a willingness to commit to the moment without fear of embarrassment, even if the comedy goes right off the rails.

The classic Ferrell scene — like his "prayer to Baby Jesus" in Talladega Nights — is a monologue that skitters along on weird and unexpected tangents that just barely tie into the speech's ostensible purpose. If he's on, there's no one funnier; if he's not, the entire movie can seem woefully undisciplined.

Ferrell's new comedy, The Campaign, is both funny and undisciplined, a political satire that works best when the commentary sags and the crass absurdism escalates.

Great political satires like The Candidate and In The Loop are focused and ruthless in targeting the foul charade of elections and policymaking. They have to be sharp in a way that's completely antithetical to Ferrell's brand of bumbling improvisation — and to the eccentric cadences of his co-star, Zach Galifianakis. As a consequence, The Campaign never draws blood, but settles for a few big laughs instead.

Armed with an expensive haircut and stump-speech platitudes, Ferrell does his best John Edwards as Cam Brady, a popular incumbent Democrat running unopposed in his North Carolina district. His approval numbers take a hit, however, when he leaves a lewd answering machine message intended for his mistress, and it opens the door for another candidate to go after his House seat.

Seeing an opportunity to secure their business overseas, the Motch brothers (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd) — a pair of corporate titans whose name pointedly evokes the real-life billionaire conservative Koch brothers — go searching for a challenger they can support.

After a vetting process flimsier than the one that nearly brought Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from the presidency, the Motches settle on Marty Huggins (Galifianakis), the simpleton son of a local Republican power broker. To transform this naif into a viable candidate, they buff out the weird edges in Marty's life and bring in a relentless political consultant (Dylan McDermott, in an inspired bit of casting) to pull the strings. With ineptitude and shamelessness on both sides, it's a race to the bottom.

Director Jay Roach, whose credits include the HBO political hits Game Change and Recount, as well as Austin Powers and Meet the Parents, attempts to use the tomfoolery to make a serious point about the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling and the unchecked flow of corporate cash it injected into our democracy. But it's a safe bet to say that all the candidates are for sale, regardless of party, because that keeps the film from having to fall on one side of the ideological divide or the other; at a time when congressional approval has fallen to its lowest levels, The Campaign makes the sort of populist appeal a world-class panderer like Cam Brady would appreciate.

Once the candidates finally square off, though, The Campaign turns into an infectiously ridiculous game of one-upmanship, as both men attack each other in free-for-all debates and unleash a series of ads and political stunts that cross the line and keep on running. Things get so ugly that Cam inadvertently punches a baby on live television and remains firmly ahead in the polls.

And therein lies the darkest joke of an otherwise mild satire: In the absence of the democracy we deserve, we're stuck with the candidates we have.

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