April 4, 2021

For its latest cold open, Saturday Night Live brought back the fictional apology show, Oops, You Did it Again, hosted by Chloe Fineman's Britney Spears.

This time the fictional Spears' guests included Lil Nas X (portrayed by Chris Redd), who caused a controversy for designing so-called "Satan Shoes"; Pepé le Pew (Kate McKinnon), the Looney Tunes character who was recently cut out of Space Jam: A New Legacy over concerns the cartoon represents misogyny; and Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz (Pete Davidson), who is being investigated by the Justice Department for payments he and another Florida politician made to women allegedly recruited online for sex, and for the possibility that he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.

All three guests were given an opportunity to defend themselves before Fineman's Spears delivered a final verdict. She determined that Redd's Lil Nas X was "innocent," while McKinnon's le Pew was "not that innocent," a ruling willingly accepted by the skunk, who was seeking to turn over a new leaf. When Fineman's Spears got to Davidson's Gaetz, she noted that she was not legally allowed to call him innocent or guilty, and instead encouraged "everyone to judge him by his face," prompting the fictional Gaetz to utter an "uh oh." Tim O'Donnell

10:34 a.m.

Republicans have officially stripped Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) of her House leadership position — and they reportedly booed her remarks prior to the vote.

House Republicans on Wednesday voted to oust Cheney from her position as chair of the House Republican Conference after she was critical of former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Cheney addressed the conference prior to the voice vote and told lawmakers, "If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I'm not your person, you have plenty of others to choose from," Politico reports. "That will be their legacy."

But The New York Times reports that Cheney's "defiant final speech" drew "boos from her colleagues." The boos came as she criticized Trump during her opening remarks, saying, "We cannot let the former president drag us backward and make us complicit in his efforts to unravel our democracy," CNN reports. Still, Cheney doubled down after the vote, vowing to prevent another Trump term.

"I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the oval office," she said.

Prior to Wednesday's vote, The Washington Post reported that Cheney was looking to ramp up her efforts to take on Trump, aiming to "become an even more influential political figure capable of weakening former president Trump's hold on their party." Brendan Morrow

9:34 a.m.

Meet the latest inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Wednesday unveiled its 2021 inductees, and in the performer category, they were Tina Turner, Carole King, The Go-Go's, Jay-Z, Foo Fighters, and Todd Rundgren. Outside of the performer category, Kraftwerk, Charley Patton, and Gil Scott-Heron are set to receive the Early Influence Award, and LL Cool J, Billy Preston, and Randy Rhoads will receive the Musical Excellence Award. Executive Clarence Avant will also receive the Ahmet Ertegun Award.

This, the announcement noted, was the "most diverse list of inductees in the history of the organization."

A larger group of sixteen nominees for this year's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was revealed back in February, but among the artists who didn't make the final list were Mary J. Blige and Dionne Warwick.

"This diverse class of talented Inductees reflects the Rock Hall's ongoing commitment to honor artists whose music created the sound of youth culture," Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation chair John Sykes said.

Three of the inductees, Rolling Stone notes, are actually being inducted into the Hall of Fame for a second time: Dave Grohl, Tina Turner, and Carole King. "It's very difficult to get inducted twice and we have three this year," Sykes noted to Rolling Stone.

This year's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is set to take place on Oct. 30. Brendan Morrow

8:47 a.m.

The congressional "Big Four" — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — will meet with President Biden on Wednesday to discuss infrastructure. It is the first time the four congressional leaders have convened at the White House since October 2019, and "this meeting will have a different dynamic, to say the least," Politico says.

Biden has "good working relationships" with Pelosi and Schumer, and "a cordial rapport" with McConnell, Politico reports, "but McCarthy's relationship with the president has been rather ... frosty of late, and that's unlikely to change as he arrives at the White House after dethroning a member of his own leadership team" for pointing out that Biden is the legitimate president.

If Biden does manage to get a bipartisan infrastructure package, it will likely be because he struck a deal "with rank-and-file members, not the party leadership," though, Politico says, which is "probably why Biden has prioritized meeting with backbenchers since Inauguration Day."

In fact, Biden has already hosted Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and Tom Carper (D-Del.) this week for infrastructure talks, and he will sit down with a group of lawmakers led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the GOP's infrastructure liaison, on Thursday. Negotiating a bipartisan roads-and-bridges infrastructure deal is Biden's Plan A, but if that falls through, Plan B requires buy-in for a Democrats-only package from Manchin and Sinema, the Senate's swing votes.

Manchin said after meeting Biden on Monday they had "a great conversation" that covered a lot of ground, and mostly common ground. Biden "wants things to happen, I agree with him," Manchin said. "He understands. He's up on everything. He knows what's going on, trust me. He's well-versed in what's going on." Peter Weber

8:36 a.m.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) isn't backing down.

The Republican lawmaker, who has been critical of former President Donald Trump and his false claims about widespread fraud in the 2020 election, "aims to become an even more influential political figure capable of weakening" Trump's "hold" on the Republican Party after a Wednesday vote to strip her of her House leadership position, The Washington Post reports.

Cheney is reportedly making plans for increased travel and media appearances to continue making the case that Trump shouldn't remain a presence in the Republican Party going forward and is unfit to again serve as president, and she's also "considering an expanded political operation that would allow her to endorse and financially support other Republican candidates" who feel the same way, the Post reports. She has reportedly told allies she plans to run for re-election, but also that she's aware this effort could potentially cost her her job.

Axios similarly reports that Cheney will "take her case to the public with speeches and other appearances" and is looking to "mold" a Republican Party "that looks more like a Cheney party and less like a Trump party."

Meanwhile, the Trump team is looking to get behind a candidate to challenge Cheney in her re-election bid, although the Post reports that advisers thus far "have struggled" to settle on a single candidate. For his part, Trump is very much "hoping to escalate" the feud, with plans to continue going after Cheney publicly, the Post reports.

These new details about Cheney's plans come after she delivered a defiant speech in Congress on Tuesday ahead of the Wednesday vote, telling her fellow lawmakers, "I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president's crusade to undermine our democracy." Brendan Morrow

6:49 a.m.

The average price of gasoline in the U.S. rose to $3.008 a gallon Wednesday, the first time gas prices have topped $3 a gallon since 2014, Bloomberg News reports, citing AAA data. The proximate cause of the rise in gas prices is the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline due to a suspected Russian ransomware cyberattack. The pipeline carries 45 percent of all fuel to the East Coast, and news of the pipeline suspension, plus the resulting higher prices, led to gas shortages throughout the Southeast.

"This is our fault," Devin Singer of Wilmington, North Carolina, told The Washington Post. "This whole thing. The people's fault. Same thing with the whole toilet paper shortage. Everybody wants something and nobody has it, so we all freak out and then nobody can get it. It's mass hysteria." Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm essentially agreed with that analysis Tuesday evening and asked Americans to stop "hoarding gasoline."

But the rise in gas prices also coincided with a shift toward the summer driving season, when gas prices are higher, and concerns on Wall Street about rising inflation. Stock futures were slightly lower in the U.S. early Wednesday in anticipation of the Labor Department's monthly report on consumer prices. Peter Weber

5:58 a.m.

The U.S. was administering an average of 3.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses a day in mid-April, and then, to the alarm fo public health officials, the numbers started steadily declining, dropping to a seven-day average of 1.98 million doses a day on May 8. Since then, the numbers have started rising again, hitting an average of 2.2 million daily doses administer by Wednesday, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data tabulated by The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

Andy Slavitt, a White House COVID-19 adviser, gave the slight uptick a thumbs-up on Tuesday.

About 44.7 percent of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, including 71.6 percent of people 65 and older, the Journal reports, though those numbers vary from state to state. Connecticut, for example, has fully vaccinated 56.3 percent of all adults, while Alabama has vaccinated 33.2 percent. The overall vaccination rate is primed for a bump as adolescents age 12 to 15 become eligible, likely later this week.

The U.S. recorded its fourth straight day of fewer than 40,000 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday — Johns Hopkins University recorded 33,000 new cases, down from Monday's 36,898 cases. The last time the seven-day average of new cases — 38,826 as of Monday, the Journal reports — was that low was back in the mid-September trough between two waves of infections. Another 684 Americans died of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the recorded U.S. pandemic total to 582,800 deaths. Peter Weber

4:56 a.m.

"Today, President Biden met with six state governors to discuss ways that they can get more Americans vaccinated," Jimmy Fallon said on Tuesday's Tonight Show. "They spent about 15 minutes coming up with ideas and three hours talking about if Bennifer is back." The Biden administration "is teaming up with McDonald's to raise vaccine awareness, so get ready for the all new McDerna," he joked. "You know we're living through historic times when McDonald's is giving public health advice."

"Meanwhile, over in Italy, a nurse accidentally gave a woman six doses of the Pfizer vaccine in one shot," Fallon said. "I'm 99 percent sure this is how every Marvel movie starts."

The six-dose vaccine shot "was all part of Olive Garden's famous promotion, unlimited needle sticks!" Stephen Colbert said at The Late Show. "There are so many hopeful signs, at long last, that America may be emerging from the pandemic," including that "more than 58 percent of U.S. adults have received at least one shot," kids 12-15 will soon be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, "and Bennifer is back! Nature is healing."

New York City will start vaccinating people at subway stops, and Biden announced Tuesday that Uber and Lyft will drive people to and from vaccination appointments for free, Colbert noted. "This is great for patients and even greater for any Uber drivers who have thought, 'I love working during the pandemic but I just wish there was a way to make sure that 100 percent of my passengers were unvaccinated.'"

The Late Show also found a cure for another contagious disease, "Foxitis."

Vaccination drives are "just what the subway needs: More random band-aids and needles on the ground," Jimmy Kimmel said on Kimmel Live. New York City is also incentivizing vaccinations with "free food, free tickets to events, and the opportunity for one lucky vaccinee to to be starting quarterback for the New York Jets this season."

"Here in California, Caitlyn Jenner's learning that running for governor isn't exactly like running in the Olympics," Kimmel said. "She is polling at 6 percent in our upcoming recall election, well behind two other Republicans. You know who those other Republicans are who are ahead of Caitlyn Jenner? No, no one does, no one has any idea, because none of them were on the E! network." He ended with a surprise for the menthol soap guy who went viral on TikTok. Watch below. Peter Weber

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