In it, but not of it. TPM DC

A new Rasmussen poll in Pennsylvania finds that both the newly-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter and his primary challenger, Rep. Joe Sestak, lead Republican former Rep. Pat Toomey for the 2010 Senate general election.

The numbers: Specter is ahead of Toomey 50%-39%, while Sestak leads Toomey 41%-35%, with the higher undecided numbers presumably coming from Sestak having lower name recognition than Specter with his nearly 30 years in the Senate. The margin of error is ±4.5%.

Specter has a favorable rating of 53%, to 43% unfavorable. Sestak's favorable ratings are 42%-33%, and Toomey's are at 50%-35%.

Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) has backed off from some of his Twitter posts yesterday, in which he seemingly compared the oppression of Iranian dissidents with the plight of House Republicans.

About ten hours ago, Culberson Tweeted this:

Restrictions against dissent in US House cannot be compared to restrictions imposed on Iranian population by their tyrant government

Yesterday, Culberson's take had been a bit different. "Good to see Iranian people move mountains w social media, shining sunlight on their repressive govt - Texans support their bid for freedom," he initially Tweeted. He then followed it up with: "Oppressed minorities includeHouseRepubs: We are using social media to expose repression such as last night's D clampdown shutting off amends," and then extensively posted about Nancy Pelosi shutting off Republican amendments.

Here's a fun epilogue to Rep. Pete Hoekstra's (R-MI) phenomenally entertaining Twitter post yesterday, in which he said, "Iranian twitter activity similar to what we did in House last year when Republicans were shut down in the House."

The statement generated lot of ridicule in the blogosphere, and some really funny jokes in the Twitter community.

Yesterday afternoon, Hoekstra's spokesman gave this statement to CNN:

"Congressman Hoekstra did not compare the ongoing violence in Iran to when Democrats shut down the House chamber during the energy debate last summer," said spokesman Dave Yonkman. "The two situations do share the similarity of government leadership attempting to limit debate and deliberation, and the ability of new technologies to bypass their efforts and allow for direct communication. That's the only point that he was trying to make."

Bush Hits Obama On Gitmo During a speech yesterday in Pennsylvania, former President George W. Bush deviated from his previous declarations that he would not criticize President Obama. "I told you I'm not going to criticize my successor," he said. "I'll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don't believe that persuasion isn't going to work. Therapy isn't going to cause terrorists to change their mind."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet with Vice President Biden at 1 p.m. ET. At 3:15 p.m. ET, the two of them will meet with George Mitchell, the Special Envoy for Middle East Peace. At 4 p.m. ET, Obama will meet with Treasury Sec. Tim Geithner. At 7 p.m. ET, Obama will speak at a DSCC/DCCC fundraising dinner.

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Rusty DePass, a prominent South Carolina Republican activist and former state elections director, has now made an abject apology for having joked on his Facebook page that an escaped gorilla from a local zoo was an ancestor of First Lady Michelle Obama.

"I am truly sorry for any offense I have caused," DePass said at a press conference -- held at the offices of the South Carolina NAACP, no less. "My remark was clearly inappropriate and I apologize for writing it."

DePass had previously sort-of apologized for it -- but also said that Michelle had originated the comment by believing in evolution. This new apology at least appears to be a step in the right direction.

Earlier today, Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) put up this astonishing post on Twitter, likening the oppression of the Iranian people to the plight of House Republicans:

Iranian twitter activity similar to what we did in House last year when Republicans were shut down in the House.

In the hours since, the Twitter community has responded -- with massive heckling. Here's just a small sample of some of the best ones:

ArjunJaikumar @petehoekstra i spilled some lukewarm coffee on myself just now, which is somewhat analogous to being boiled in oil

chrisbaskind @petehoekstra My neighbor stopped me to talk today. Now I know what it is like to be questioned by the Basij!

luckbfern @petehoekstra I stand in solidarity with the oppressed rich white men of Repub Party in the House. #GOPfail Allah Akbar!

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A new Rasmussen poll of Pennsylvania finds Sen. Arlen Specter with a lead over Rep. Joe Sestak in the 2010 Democratic primary -- but it does seem a bit surprising that Specter's lead isn't even bigger, given his built-in advantages of incumbency and high name recognition.

The numbers: Specter 51%, Sestak 32%.

Both candidates have solid favorable ratings. Specter is at 72% favorable, including 35% very favorable, to 26% total unfavorable. Sestak is at 57% total favorable, with 18% very favorable, to 21% total unfavorable.

Specter has been in the Senate for almost 30 years, and has the full support of the Democratic establishment from President Obama on down, in the wake of his recent party switch (which, as we all know, was triggered by a Republican primary challenger). But there clearly is a genuine base of anti-Specter Democrats willing to support Sestak, so this could be an interesting primary.

In an interview with the Washington Times, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) vowed that in the upcoming census, she and her family will refuse to answer personal questions on the forms beyond the number of people in her household -- which is, in fact, against the law:

"I know for my family the only question we will be answering is how many people are in our home," said Bachmann, who warned of corrupt ACORN involvement in the census. "We won't be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn't require any information beyond that."

In fact, as a Census Bureau spokeswoman told the Washington Times, what Bachmann just announced she would do is a crime punishable by a fine of up to $5,000. But hey, there's something to be said for civil disobedience.

(Via Think Progress)

As a fun follow-up to the potential link between the housing crisis and the John Ensign scandal, it turns out that the giant house bought by former Ensign Senate staffer Douglas Hampton and his wife (and former Ensign campaign staffer and reported former mistress) Cynthia Hampton is on the market.

The asking price is $1,660,000 -- though for what it's worth, the folks at think it might only really be worth $861,500. Real estate values have been all over the place lately, and Nevada itself has had the sharpest percentage declines in the nation.

Check out the photos and video. This place is really luxurious.

Late Update: Here's our TPM slideshow.

Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) is posting on Twitter to praise the use of social networking media to organize against the tyrants in Iran -- and the tyrannical Democrats running the House of Representatives.

"Good to see Iranian people move mountains w social media, shining sunlight on their repressive govt - Texans support their bid for freedom," Culberson posted earlier today. He then followed it up with this: "Oppressed minorities includeHouseRepubs: We are using social media to expose repression such as last night's D clampdown shutting off amends"

Over the next few hours -- and following some ridicule in the blogosphere -- Culberson has dug in further. "Pelosi etal shut down House amendments & debate on Approps Bill to prevent conservatives from slowing down their uncontrolled spending spree," he just posted.

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