In it, but not of it. TPM DC

The Democratic National Committee is now getting in on the jokes about Gov. Mark Sanford's (R-SC) mysterious disappearance, with this new Web video, "Where's Sanford?":



Interestingly, among all the news footage that was collected to make this video, the official explanation that Sanford has gone hiking on the Appalachian Trail isn't even mentioned at all verbally -- it only makes a brief appearance in some of the on-screen news text.

Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) apologized to his Republican colleagues at a caucus lunch today, the Politico reports, in the wake of his admission of an extramarital affair that took place in late 2007 and early 2008.

Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) said Ensign "apologized to everyone who had been hurt, indicated that he had certain deficiencies in his own character and outlook and was going to make substantial improvements."

Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who is likely to take over Ensign's former leadership position as chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee -- a post that Ensign has resigned -- said that "He basically told us that he was sorry, and he's going to continue to do his job as a senator from Nevada."

The Republican National Committee has this new ad going after President Obama on health care, ahead of tomorrow's TV special on ABC News, to run on select national cable channels tomorrow. The ad attacks Obama -- and without naming them, ABC -- for wanting a government takeover:



"Today a national TV network turns its airwaves over to President Obama's pitch for government-run health care," the announcer says. "Shouldn't this be a bipartisan discussion?"

"Tell President Obama to work with Republicans," the announcer concludes later, "and to stop rushing into another government takeover."

While we're all waiting for a decision from the Minnesota Supreme Court about the state's ever-continuing disputed 2008 Senate race between Republican former Sen. Norm Coleman and Democratic comedian Al Franken, the national GOP is reiterating its continued support for Coleman if he appeals a much-expected defeat -- and that avenues exist to stop Al Franken from being certified as the winner.

"We'll do everything we can to support Norm as long as he has appellate remedies to pursue," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, in an interview with David Weigel.

Cornyn noted that if Franken wins the appeals, the Governor and state Secretary of State will be required to give him a certificate of election -- his golden ticket into the Senate. But, Cornyn said, Coleman could potentially appeal to the Supreme Court: "The justice that's responsible for that area -- I think it's Justice Alito -- could issue a stay in the issuance of the election certificate, and it could be referred to the entire court."

"I say all this as 'could,'" said Cornyn, "not as 'will or should.'"

Yesterday, I asked a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner whether Republicans would alter their climate change talking points, in light of a Congressional Budget Office report finding that the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill will be much less expensive per household than the GOP had suggested.

Boehner never got back to me. But he did circulate new talking points, which elide the erroneous allegation that a cap-and-trade bill will cost the average household over $3,000, and attack the legislation with selective quotations instead.

You can read the whole missive below the fold.

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Over the weekend, Sen. Dianne Feinstein went on CNN's State of the Union and said the President may not have enough votes to accomplish comprehensive health care reform.

"To be candid with you, I don't know that he has the votes right now," Feinstein said. "I think there's a lot of concern in the Democratic caucus."

Since then, quite a bit has transpired, at least rhetorically, on the issue, and for now, things look a bit different. But nonetheless, reform advocates are taking exception to her comments.

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Asked about health reform at his press conference moments ago, President Obama declined to draw a line in the sand on the issue of a public insurance option.

The non-negotiable criteria, he said, are that reform should drive down costs and cover the un- and underinsured. He declined, though, to put the public option in this category, saying that he feels strongly about certain provisions and will take those concerns up with members of Congress individually.

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We've received our review copy of "False Witness: The Michele Bachmann Story," the new comic book from our friends at the Dump Bachmann Web site, documenting the rise and extreme statements of our favorite House GOP backbencher, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). It's now in print in Minnesota, and anybody can order it online. So how is it?

As both a comic book fan and a Bachmann fan, I quite enjoyed it, but my hope is that the first issue was really laying a foundation for more to come. This comic introduces us to Bachmann, but then doesn't so much focus on her as it does on the important information we need to truly understand her political prominence -- the nature of extreme right-wing culture that has bequeathed a politician such as her to our national dialogue.

Right from the cover, which has a wacky cartoonish feeling as if it were somehow pencilled by Sergio Aragones and inked by R. Crumb, you know we're dealing with a special politician:



(Click images to enlarge.)

And sure enough, the first page introduces us to Bachmann herself, and her call for revoluation against the Marxist tyranny of President Obama:

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On Sunday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)--a senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee--made his frustrations with the state of health reform negotiations public. "I don't think I could say with a straight face that this (co-op proposal) is at all close to a nationwide public option," he told the Associated Press. "Right now, this co-op idea doesn't come close to satisfying anyone who wants a public plan."

Schumer has been a key negotiator on the committee, seeking compromise between conservative and liberal Democrats on the inclusion of a public insurance option in the committee's forthcoming reform legislation. Last week, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND)--also of the Finance Committee--said he thought the idea was dead in the water; that it couldn't win Republican support and that Democrats should throw in their lot with the idea of creating a co-op system instead. That, though, would alienate liberals, and might also fail to entice Republicans to support the entire package, and as a result, Schumer said, Democrats might have to go it alone on the public option.

Now Conrad is changing his tune--at least somewhat. He's still pushing the co-op model, but one with comparable levels of clout to a government-run public plan: "I believe to be effective there has to a national entity with state affiliates and those affiliates have to have the ability to regionalize," Conrad told reporters. "I think [Schumer's] concern there can be addressed."

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