Papers are full of APEC stories this morning as you would expect but nothing really newsworthy in any of them outside the arrest of the ABC comedians. Words, words and more words.

In Melbourne the Herald Sun delighted in making fun of the security lapse that allowed the Chaser team to drive their motorcade right up to the hotel where President George Bush was staying. It will not be funny for John Howard who can see his chances of using APEC to reclaim his prestige being laughed away.

Kevin Rudd will be pleased with how yesterday went. An Australian leader speaking Mandarin to the Chinese president was a demonstration of the new generation he would bring to the Prime Ministerial job. Especially troubling for John Howard who has a substantial Chinese population in his electorate of Bennelong.

Michelle Grattan in The Age judged that Rudd did well out of his meeting with US President George Bush too. She wrote:

The meeting between the President and Rudd – who was accompanied by his deputy, Julia Gillard, and his foreign affairs spokesman, Robert McClelland – was an important test for the Opposition Leader, and one that he appeared to pass convincingly.

Beforehand, Bush had seemed to be deliberately setting Rudd up. Before leaving Washington, he said in interviews with the Australian media that he would be telling Rudd a Labor government should consider the situation on the ground in Iraq before going ahead with its policy to withdraw Australia’s combat troops, who number about 570.

At Wednesday’s news conference with John Howard, the President stressed how important Australia’s contribution in Iraq is, and heaped praised on his good friend. That night Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice repeated Bush’s earlier message to the Opposition Leader.

Rudd had already rejected the American appeals before yesterday’s meeting. The challenge was to make the differences appear unthreatening to the alliance.

Rather curiously, Bush asked Rudd to keep confidential the content of their discussion. Rudd naturally agreed – he pointed out later that Bush was the host of the meeting – and the request for secrecy did not do him any harm. He got out enough of what he had said, and he wasn’t forced to answer questions on the detail of what Bush had said.

In The Sydney Morning Herald the Chaser leads the way and the poll on the paper’s website suggests that the people are not taking APEC as seriously as the federal and state governments. An overwhelming 86% rated the stunt as funny with 20,000 clicks made.

Annabel Crabb, surely the most amusing writer about politics in the country, thought the sex life of pandas the most interesting aspect of the day. The really significant story, however, was not about visiting leaders at all but Andrew West’s report that the “Howard Government broke its own workplace laws when it ordered public sector managers to deny workers access to leave to take part in a national protest against the new industrial relations legislation, the Federal Court has found.” Work Choices continues to be the big negative for Howard.

The Daily Telegraph was being the serious one this morning with its lead proclaiming “a Sydney Declaration on climate change with the signatures of the presidents of China and the US attached … will be a potent document for the Prime Minister to take into the election campaign and claim as evidence of his concern about global warming and his leadership on an international response.”

Over in Adelaide climate change was given a different emphasis by The Advertiser. Over their breakfast readers were warned to expect 10 years of water restrictions which makes climate change a real issue and perhaps explains why Liberal Party research has a bigger swing against Howard in SA than in other states.

And now the bad news for all of us. The Age reports that commercial television stations will be allowed an extra minute of advertising per hour during the election campaign.