Having stayed the course in Ramadi and Fallujah, the Corps digs in for its next great challenge: Moldering hippies in search of the most righteous photo-op evah.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates offered Friday to help the U.S. Marines leave town by negotiating an end to the lease for their recruiting station, even as he backpedaled on a City Council resolution declaring the Corps “uninvited and unwelcome intruders” in the city.

In the face of an onslaught of pro-military criticism from around the country, Bates, a retired Army captain, also issued a statement that said the City Council’s resolution Tuesday night “did not adequately differentiate our respect and support for those serving in the armed forces and our opposition to the Iraq war policy.” He said he would ask the council to modify the resolution at its next meeting, scheduled for Feb. 12.

A Marines spokeswoman said Friday that the Corps has no intention of abandoning its space at 64 Shattuck Square that has been the subject of protests for months.

MM has the obligatory pics of morons in Gitmo garb taking their meaningless gestures very seriously indeed. As irritating as this crap is, is there any more efficient way (outside of the “Betray Us” ad) for an anti-war group to discredit its side? No wonder even Colbert’s writers have taken to mocking them. Too bad Super Tuesday’s coming up; this would have been primo material for O’Reilly and H&C this week.

Click the image and scroll down to the video to feel the spirit of the 60s. Can you feel it?