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Right Now: June 20, 2010 - June 26, 2010

Sarah Palin's defense fund relaunches

The confusing and, in the end, not really damaging story over whether Palin's original defense fund was legal ends with that being shut down and the new Sarah Palin Legal Defense Fund launching, with some attitude.

By David Weigel  |  June 25, 2010; 9:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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'Florida Tea Party' crashes press conference to combat charge that it's working for Democrats

Independent tea party activists called a press conference to announce the formation of a Central Florida Tea Party Council and demand that Peg Dunmire, the "Florida Tea Party candidate" against* Grayson, drop out of the race. Dunmire and party director Fred O'Neil showed up. Things got... well, not ugly, but not pretty, either.

By David Weigel  |  June 25, 2010; 8:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  2010 Election  
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Last call

Behold, the Al Gore documents.

By David Weigel  |  June 24, 2010; 6:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Last call  
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The DISCLOSE Act passes

The legislation split conservatives and had activists griping about the NRA, which -- while not endorsing the bill -- got a carve-out that was written in a way that exempted them from campaign finance restrictions.

By David Weigel  |  June 24, 2010; 5:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  2010 Election  
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Rupert Murdoch, open borders crusader

Immigration activists might know this, but the Murdoch hook is obviously the best thing Bloomberg has going for this project.

By David Weigel  |  June 24, 2010; 4:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Immigration  
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Rand Paul speaks on McChrystal and BP

PAUL: I was listening to some people on the Hill today, and they were looking for the justification for setting it up. I don't know what the legal justification is -- I'm not an expert in whether Congress has to give you authority or the president has authority to do it. Those issues take research and time, and I'm not going to make an off-the-cuff response.

By David Weigel  |  June 24, 2010; 3:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  2010 Election  
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An apology to my readers

Below the fold are quotes from me e-mailing the list that day -- quotes that I'm told a gossip Web site will post today. I apologize for much of what I wrote, and apologize to readers.

By David Weigel  |  June 24, 2010; 3:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (447)
Categories:  Media  
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Steve King: 'There's one [birth certificate] in this country we haven't seen'

I've asked King's office exactly what he meant here, but it's hard to tell what this is if not a joke about "birtherism." What's the "one" birth certificate he hasn't seen?

By David Weigel  |  June 24, 2010; 12:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (42)
Categories:  Fringe  
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Christie's N.J. primary opponent blasts governor's 'hype,' 'big government spin machine'

He knocks Rush Limbaugh twice, and points out that Christie -- who has to wrestle with a Democratic legislature -- has acquiesced to spending increases and reversals on some planned tax cuts. And really, when I talk to conservatives outside of New Jersey, there's less interest in the details of this than the fact that Christie is attacking the state's unions a and sounding great doing so.

By David Weigel  |  June 24, 2010; 11:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Conservatives  
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Embracing the crazy

Way back on March 3, Lyndon LaRouche supporter Kesha Rogers won the right to challenge Rep. Pete Olson (R-Tex.) in the 22nd district of Texas. A few reporters noticed; I talked to Olson briefly after the election and we both remarked on his luck. But she faded until this week when, for some reason, conservative bloggers noticed Rogers and began asking whether the media was covering up for her. Was it, asked Jim "Gateway Pundit" Hoft, because the press doesn't want to reveal that it's LaRouche activists, not conservatives, comparing the president to Hitler.

By David Weigel  |  June 24, 2010; 10:09 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  2010 Election  
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Rand Paul raises funds and talks about support from pro-TARP senators

"I wanted to get him before or the day after he got elected," said Bunning, "because I knew all the papers would immediately turn on him. And they did I would have told him, as soon as you win the nomination, they're your enemy, and the more you recognize that the better off you are, because then you can be a little more careful about how you approach some of our wonderful papers like the Herald-Ledger and the Courier-Journal."

By David Weigel  |  June 24, 2010; 9:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  2010 Election  
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Why Republicans needed Joe Barton to clam up

[O]nly 6 percent have a favorable rating of BP. In the history of the NBC News/Journal poll, Saddam Hussein (3 percent), Fidel Castro (3 percent) and Yasser Arafat (4 percent) have had lower favorable scores, and O.J. Simpson (11 percent) and tobacco-maker Philip Morris (15 percent) have had higher ratings.

By David Weigel  |  June 24, 2010; 8:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
Categories:  Energy  
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Nailing Obama on McChrystal

Not surprisingly it's candidates -- who need to keep their base revved up -- who are saying this, not current GOP members of Congress.

By David Weigel  |  June 24, 2010; 8:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Foreign Policy  
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Last call

Tim Lee introduces Eric Balderas.

By David Weigel  |  June 23, 2010; 6:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Last call  
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McChrystal heroism watch

Jim Geraghty catches Move America Forward, a pro-military group run by the people who created the Tea Party Express (MAF predates that), calling for McChrystal to "blow the whistle" on the Obama administration.

By David Weigel  |  June 23, 2010; 5:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Gay GOP group grapples with Family Research Council

"Over the last week, the Family Research Council has shown its true colors - attacking GOProud for working with the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America to protect 2nd Amendment rights, attacking GOProud for supporting cutting taxes on American families, and for supporting the free market healthcare reform proposal offered by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK)," said Jimmy LaSalvia, Executive Director. "These attacks make it clear the Family Research Council doesn't care one iota about the conservative agenda."

By David Weigel  |  June 23, 2010; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Conservatives , Gay  
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The year of the black Republican, revisited

A few weeks ago, reporters and pundits were dumping ice water on the narrative that 2010 would be a "year of the black Republican." But last night, South Carolina's Tim Scott was only one of two African-Americans who locked down GOP nominations for Congress. The other, Bill Randall, won a runoff in North Carolina and will face adroit Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.). Miller has faced off against black Republicans in the past, and Randall enters the race most famous for wondering whether government "collusion" led to the BP spill. So this might be a case of a black candidate garnering headlines but acting, effectively, as a sacrificial lamb.

By David Weigel  |  June 23, 2010; 4:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  2010 Election , Race  
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McCain smacks around 'huckster' Hayworth

The Arizona senator hits the 5 mph softball that was opponent J.D. Hayworth's horrifying appearance in a scammy "free money from the government video." McCain's new TV ad:

By David Weigel  |  June 23, 2010; 3:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  2010 Election  
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Why did Rep. Bob Inglis lose by 42 points?

Inglis's explanation for his defeat is self-serving, sure, but he's right -- Republican voters have no interest in rewarding bipartisanship that involves shaming other conservatives.

By David Weigel  |  June 23, 2010; 2:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  2010 Election  
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McChrystal goes, after some conservatives called for that outcome

The president has now accepted McChrystal's resignation and Petraeus is on track to take over in Afghanistan. Don't expect the rest of Kristol's advice (the firing of civilian ambassadors) to be adopted right now, but take note of the conservative commentary on this issue. I saw no one argue that McChrystal did not, at least, need to offer his resignation -- the argument was between commentators like Charles Krauthammer who argued that Obama should not accept it, and commentators like Kristol who argued for Petraeus to move in.

By David Weigel  |  June 23, 2010; 1:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Foreign Policy  
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Texas Rep. Gohmert endorses 'BP fund as Nazi enabling act' argument

And he went on to quote from the column, calling defenders of the fund "useful idiots." Gohmert is in as much danger of losing re-election as I am of spontaneously combusting -- the Cook Political Report gives his 1st district of Texas an R +21 rating -- but for the record, here's a Republican endorsing this argument that I thought was un-endorseable.

By David Weigel  |  June 23, 2010; 12:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  Congress , Energy  
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'Joe Barton was right,' Joe Barton tweets

The article by Peter Hannaford is a robust defense of what Barton said, knocking the Obama administration for "Alinsky" tactics and hatred of business.

By David Weigel  |  June 23, 2010; 11:58 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (61)
Categories:  Congress  
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Bork takes on Kagan's 'immature theory of judging'

"I'm not prepared to decide that," said Bork, "but the judicial filibuster is ordinarily to be avoided."

By David Weigel  |  June 23, 2010; 11:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Supreme Court  
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Joe Barton sticks around

The ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has apologized to House Republicans after meeting with and apologizing to Gulf Coast members of the conference.

By David Weigel  |  June 23, 2010; 10:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Congress , Energy  
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Mark and Jenny Sanford, reunited for Nikki Haley

That's Jenny Sanford greeting Gov. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), her estranged husband who famously found his soulmate -- not her -- in last year's Appalachian-tinged soap opera. They were at Nikki Haley's victory party, having both played roles in getting her elected. Mark, who became politically toxic after his scandal, watched his dormant PAC wake up and spend $400,000 on TV ads for Haley in the last stretch of the primary. Jenny, who won public sympathy after the scandal, endorsed Haley in November 2009, and defended her during the the bizarre, going-nowhere stories alleging she had been unfaithful to her husband.

By David Weigel  |  June 23, 2010; 8:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  2010 Election  
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Mike Lee wins in Utah, and so does the tea party

This is a clear-cut victory for tea partyers. Lee had the endorsements of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and FreedomWorks -- that organization dispatched volunteers to the Beehive State to stump and organize for a campaign that eked out a 51-49 win. Bridgewater even won the endorsement of the Salt Lake Tribune, which described the candidates as "Tweedledum and Tweedledee" and fretted about Lee's hardline positions on Constitutional issues.

By David Weigel  |  June 23, 2010; 8:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  2010 Election  
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Last call

Fiorina consultant Liz Mair takes on the "year of the Republican woman."

By David Weigel  |  June 22, 2010; 7:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Last call  
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Primary night: What to watch

Utah (10 p.m.) - The GOP primary for U.S. Senate pits businessman Tim Bridgewater against lawyer Mike Lee, with the bulk of tea party activists backing Lee and business interests backing Bridgewater. But pay attention, too, to Rep. Jim Matheson's (D-Utah) race in the 2nd district -- the conservative Democrat faces a surprise primary challenge from a progressive first-time candidate angry over his vote against health care reform.

By David Weigel  |  June 22, 2010; 7:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  2010 Election  
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The Weekly Standard takes on Glenn Beck

Conor Friedersdorf makes the point -- which Continetti might have thought was implicit -- that there are less conspiracy-minded conservative figures than Beck who engage in psuedohistory about how liberals and progressives are part of a tradition of America-undermining evil. But even if you define conspiracy down, and only call it outrageous to indulge the strangest, Alex Jones-iest rumors, you don't really have a serious conservative effort to purge all of that. You see, instead, arguments that blame the media for "hyping" that stuff to make conservatives look bad. Continetti's article is notable for how it doesn't pretend that this is true.

By David Weigel  |  June 22, 2010; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Tea Party  
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Florida Rep. Alan Grayson and the tea party

Now, it shouldn't be a surprise that Grayson does work with conservatives. That's not a sham. He worked with Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) to pass the "audit the Fed" amendment in the House, and according to Paul staffers, worked hard to ingratiate himself to Paul. Grayson offered to speak at 2009 tea parties in Florida and was denied. But Grayson stands to benefit if conservatives vote for the Tea Party candidate, Peg Dunmire, in his district. And GOP-supporting tea partyers -- that is, most tea partyers -- have been tenacious in their attacks on third party candidates who appear to ease the path to re-election for Democrats. Look at Scott Ashjian in Nevada, whose poll numbers plunged after the Tea Party Express ran ads calling him a fraud.

By David Weigel  |  June 22, 2010; 4:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  2010 Election , Tea Party  
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Republicans criticize McChrystal comments but don't call for his firing

"I'm personally going to wait and see what Gen. McChrystal has to say," Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) told reporters. He declined to say whether, in his view, McChrystal's comments had violated the code of conduct: "I'm not going to get into any of that."

By David Weigel  |  June 22, 2010; 3:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Foreign Policy  
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The BP escrow fund as Nazi enabling act

I'm in the Senate right now, where there is no appetite -- really, none -- for criticizing the BP fund. The gap between conservative intellectual leadership and Republican politicians on this issue is as wide as we've ever seen it during the Obama era.

By David Weigel  |  June 22, 2010; 2:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (31)
Categories:  Energy  
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'The greatest libertarian show on earth' will feature 'Escape from America' financial advice

Read to the end, where Nestmann gloats about watching American tourists who can't travel freely to Cuba like he can.

By David Weigel  |  June 22, 2010; 1:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Libertarians  
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McCain, Lieberman, Graham: President must decide McChrystal’s future

We have the highest respect for General McChrystal and honor his brave service and sacrifice to our nation. General McChrystal’s comments, as reported in Rolling Stone, are inappropriate and inconsistent with the traditional relationship between Commander-in-Chief and the military. The decision concerning General McChrystal’s future is a decision to be made by the President of the United States.

By David Weigel  |  June 22, 2010; 12:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Foreign Policy  
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Conservatives start to react to McChrystal story

Hanson is critical of Rolling Stone itself, suggesting that McChrystal never should have talked to the magazine. But this comes eight months after McChrystal criticized Vice President Joe Biden's plan for Afghanistan (not the one the administration went with) as "short-sighted."

By David Weigel  |  June 22, 2010; 11:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (37)
Categories:  Foreign Policy  
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GOP candidates echo Barton on BP 'shakedown'

In Colorado, it was an aide to once-frontrunner Jane Norton (Ken Buck now leads in some polls for the GOP's U.S. Senate nomination) who called the escrow account a "slush fund." I'm not seeing a massive trend here, but I'm not sure that local reporters are all posing the question. Plenty of conservative candidates agree with Rush Limbaugh that the fund amounts to "thuggery" or a shakedown -- something the Gulf Coast Republicans who favored the fund disagree with.

By David Weigel  |  June 22, 2010; 11:07 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  2010 Election , Energy  
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The Christie for vice president boomlet: It starts now

I bring this up because last week I pointed to a Quinnipiac poll which showed New Jersey more or less split on Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) and split on whether he was a "bully" or a fighter for their interests. They opposed his spending cuts but approved of his pitched battles against the state's entrenched unions. All of this stood out because, outside of New Jersey, Christie is becoming a beloved conservative star. Talk to a plugged-in conservative activist and he'll rattle off the list of accomplishments -- changing the balance of the state Supreme Court, massive spending reductions, bringing Democrats on board with a salary cap for public employees, and -- oh yes -- endless YouTube videos of him dressing down his enemies.

By David Weigel  |  June 22, 2010; 10:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  2012 Election  
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A dead heat in Utah, or an edge for Tim Bridgewater?

If Bridgewater is ahead, it's not for lack of trying from tea party groups. The Tea Party Express and FreedomWorks have endorsed Lee, and FreedomWorks staffers have been on the ground for days, marshaling support for their candidate. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has endorsed Lee, while outgoing Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) has endorsed Bridgewater, and while tea partyers hope that Lee got the better end of that deal, the GOP base in the primary is the one Bennett was confident he could win over if he survived the convention. Also emboldening Lee activists is the belief that primary voters are, generally, more religiously heterodox than convention attendees. Lee was hit by a piece of ugly direct mail asking whether he had "Utah values."

By David Weigel  |  June 22, 2010; 9:09 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  2010 Election  
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A Libertarian star who drives Libertarians crazy

That's won't satisfy activists, but it raises the question of why the Libertarian Party hasn't benefited from the rise of the tea party movement, where respect for the GOP is grudging at best. It hasn't helped that Barr, the media-savvy 2008 nominee, has irritated activists since running that race.

By David Weigel  |  June 22, 2010; 8:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Libertarians  
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Last call

Rick Scott leads.

By David Weigel  |  June 21, 2010; 6:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Last call  
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Honolulu city clerk debunks new 'birther' theory

The internal contradictions of Adams' story haven't stopped him from expanding his media presence this week, most recently with a local TV interview in which he repeated his claims (some of them based on popular "birther" rumors from the web) while, confusingly, stating that he didn't think Obama's eligibility was an issue.

By David Weigel  |  June 21, 2010; 5:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (61)
Categories:  Fringe  
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South Carolina: The rise of Tim Scott

Tomorrow evening, unless something totally unexpected happens, the GOP will end an eight-year dry spell and elect its first black member of Congress since the retirement of Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.). Amy Gardner looks at Tim Scott, a state representative who, with considerable national support from the Club for Growth and leading Republicans, is set to beat Paul "son of Strom" Thurmond in the primary for the 1st district -- an overwhelmingly Republican seat where the party's nominee is a lock in November.

By David Weigel  |  June 21, 2010; 4:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  2010 Election  
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The predictable Robert Bork

This is not a man who gives Democratic nominees the benefit of the doubt, or one who has forgiven the senators who blocked his nomination 23 years ago. (Heck, would you?) He can do one of two things -- point out that a combative hearing scares off qualified nominees, or demand that future nominees get the same treatment he got. So, typically, he does both.

By David Weigel  |  June 21, 2010; 3:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Supreme Court  
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J.D. Hayworth, free-money-from-the-government pitchman

Side note: Matthew Lesko, whose exclamation mark-covered suits have made him the most recognizable figure in the free-money-from-the-government trade, is a libertarian who's mocked his own practice in a Reason.tv video making fun of the stimulus. That's after the jump.

By David Weigel  |  June 21, 2010; 2:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  2010 Election  
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Ralph Nader not ruling out 2012 presidential bid

That's not a "no." Green declined his interest in a third party bid as soon as Nader finished speaking, and Hightower isn't the kind of name you drop if you're actually looking at a political successor. Nader, who will turn 78 in 2012, began the Obama era by asking whether the first black president would become an "uncle tom for the corporations," and followed that up with a utopian novel (of disputable literary merit) about billionaires saving the world from conservatives. He is, in other words, a flawed vessel for whatever progressive anger against Democrats exists in 2012. But he's not ruling out a run. And at least one current tea party leader has experience in helping him get onto the ballot.

By David Weigel  |  June 21, 2010; 1:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  2012 Election  
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Mark Levin attacks 'phony, populist idiot' O'Reilly over BP fund

Here's a relevant segment from O'Reilly's interview with Bachmann, in which he gets her to basically support the idea of the fund -- Levin, reflecting a good amount of opinion out there, is so angry about the process that he sees O'Reilly as a useful idiot for even asking this.

By David Weigel  |  June 21, 2010; 12:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Conservatives , Media  
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Rep. Joe Barton not in line to become energy chairman again

Republicans can appeal for exceptions to this rule, and occasionally, they get them. But as of today, based on the conversations I've had with Republicans, there's no appetite for waiving the rule to protect Barton. It's possible that Barton, who is 60, could lead this committee again someday. But the odds of him leading it if the GOP wins in November are very, very slim. And that's one reason you're seeing Democrats try to move their focus from Barton to other Republicans, including members of the Republican Study Committee, who agreed with the "shakedown" part of his comments.

By David Weigel  |  June 21, 2010; 11:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  2010 Election , Energy  
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The Chamber battles the DISCLOSE Act

Pro-business groups who stand to lose if the campaign finance DISCLOSE Act passes are taking advantage of the opening that social conservatives have created by opposing a compromise to pass the bill. Here's a look at an ad the Chamber of Commerce is going to start running in D.C.

By David Weigel  |  June 21, 2010; 10:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Conservatives  
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Palin versus the GOP on BP

Nine tines out of 10, Palin's pioneering media strategy protects her from tough questions while allowing her to get her points widely distributed. The strategy is not working here. There has not yet been much interest in portraying Palin as what she is -- a critic of oil companies who sees a difference between how the government deals with them and how it deals with, say, Chrysler.

By David Weigel  |  June 21, 2010; 8:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (146)
Categories:  Energy , Sarah Palin  
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The mysterious 'tea party consultant'

I read Playboy's anonymous piece "Confessions of a Tea Party consultant" last week, and I'm still scratching my head about what the point of it was. It read like it was being dictated by a distracted source to a confused secretary, jumping from point to point, and making assertions that were neither provable nor damning. Follow the work of Big Government's Mike Flynn and Founding Bloggers' videographer Andrew Marcus you know about as much as the mysterious consultant reveals about the movement. Follow the progress of Ensuring Liberty PAC -- which was launched four months ago at the first National Tea Party Convention -- and you wonder whether this piece is promotion for a project that hasn't been very influential yet. Oh, it's fun, but revelations take a back seat to gooey tributes to the people the consultant likes working with.

By David Weigel  |  June 21, 2010; 8:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Tea Party  
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