Morning Bloomberg in 2012?

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Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images, Theo Wargo/WireImage

Mayor Bloomberg's favorite thing to do when asked whether he's going to run for president in 2012 —— which happens on perhaps a daily or even hourly basis — — is to state the exact number of days he has left to be mayor and insist that he intends to be mayor for each of them. "I’ve committed to serving out the balance of my term, which is 1,142 days from today — but who’s counting?" he told reporters on Monday. But nobody believes him. At least, nobody believes that Bloomberg isn't paying close attention to the political environment and wouldn't leave New York behind if he thought he could win. Maybe his viability as a presidential candidate would be determined by how well he could balance the ticket with his running mate.

That running mate might be former Republican congressman and current MSNBC Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough, the Huffington Post's Howard Fineman reports today. Scarborough has been the target of presidential speculation before, because he's a Republican but a generally moderate and rational one, a guy liberals even like. (He's "the liberal’s favorite talk-show host," according to a July 2008 New York story.) He's obviously a good communicator, as well, and his lighthearted banter abilities are off the charts.

But what is Fineman's evidence that this moderate, independent-minded ticket is actually a thing that might seriously happen, and not just a thing that people who long for a moderate, independent-minded ticket fantasize about?

1. A Bloomberg source says that "Joe really wants to be the VP candidate if Mike runs," but "whether Mike feels the same way about Joe — that's not clear."

2. Most important, "Well-placed sources tell The Huffington Post that the mayor and the host have talked about running together, with Bloomberg in the top spot."

Well, maybe it's not just a fantasy after all, if they've actually talked about it. Perhaps, on his show this morning, Joe Scarborough shed some light on the extent of their discussions?

“There are two things that bother me about this story,” Scarborough said. “First of all, I say no, and it’s written anyway. [And] a source close to the mayor says Joe is very interested in being vice president? First of all, the source must not be that close to the mayor, because the mayor and I haven't talked about this. Secondly, [the source] doesn't know me, because I would be terrible.”

And just in case his viewers didn’t get the message ...

“Mike Bloomberg and I have not talked about this directly, or indirectly, or super-super-secret indirectly,” Scarborough said. “I would not use sign language. It's not like The Sting, nothing like that. Can I just say no?”

You can, but if Bloomberg serves as a guide, it won't matter.

Update: Here's Scarborough talking about Fineman's article on Morning Joe today. We particularly enjoyed how hard Mika pretended to be angry/Joe's mom.