In it, but not of it. TPM DC

The pro-Obama group Americans United For Change is going nationwide with a new ad campaign, praising members of Congress who voted for the energy bill. The ad campaign brings a patriotic fervor to the pro-bill side, boasting of the "uniquely American" solution that will create energy jobs here instead of other countries.

Here's the version running in the district of Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN):



The ad is a localized version of a spot they premiered last week for the D.C. media market -- which is basically a testing ground for response from the media -- with the names of individual Congressmen inserted in to be praised for voting in favor of the bill.

The list of Democratic House members for this ad campaign: John Boccieri (OH); Mary Jo Kilroy (OH); Steve Driehaus (OH); Mark Schauer (MI); Betsy Markey (CO); Baron Hill (IN); Ben Chandler (KY); Frank Kratovil (MD); Dan Maffei (NY); Mike Doyle (PA); Tom Perriello (VA); Rick Boucher(VA); Paul Hodes (NH), who is also running for the Senate; and Carol Shea-Porter (NH). There will also be a generic version in the Detroit media market, and on national cable for CNN and MSNBC. This list has some overlap with the NRCC's new ad campaign against the bill.

Here's another Republican who will openly express his puzzlement at Sarah Palin's latest move: Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who doesn't seem to think that Palin has a political future anymore.

"I don't know of anyone who has successfully and voluntarily pulled themselves out of political office and been able to leverage that into more political success," King told The Hill, also adding: "I hope there's something brilliant behind this because she's entirely capable of actually having a grand strategy that the rest of us don't understand."

So think about that: Sarah Palin has managed to do something that even Steve King thinks is odd.

Check out this new cover from National Review:



This is as strong an argument as any other that's been made against the public option: That Obama will be personally telling you to turn your head and cough, then sticking his finger where the sun don't shine.

Late Update: Some people have raised the matter of a recent Economist cover:



While these covers might seem similar, they really aren't the same in the ways that matter. There's a big difference between the universal fear of big needles, as compared to an index finger pointed in the air...from underneath a latex glove.

Here's yet another example of how Republicans across the country are becoming just a little unbalanced over the victory of Sen.-elect Al Franken.

Last week, soon after Franken's win became official, Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Peter Bronson put up a blog post that included a curious photo of Franken in an adult diaper, wearing bunny ears and holding a teddy bear. Bronson suggested Republicans use this photo for an ad, with the heading: "Is this who you want making decisions about your health care?"



The thing is, though, the photo is a fake. It was doctored up by the Ohio Republican Party back in 2006, in an attempt to attack Democrat Sherrod Brown for campaigning with Franken in Brown's Senate race, using Franken's face from a 2004 AP file photo of him at his radio show desk. And the Enquirer itself reported this at the time. In an indication of just how successful the attack was, Brown easily won the race.

Funny thing: The title of Bronson's blog is "Bronson is Always Right." I'll also say that I have something in common with Republicans, in that I kind of wish this photo were real -- but probably for a much different reason than they do.

Late Update:: The Enquirer has now replaced the photo, with a pic of Franken in the role of Stuart Smalley. "Note: This picture replaces an earlier one that was photoshopped (Franken in a diaper)," the editorial note says. "We don't knowingly use false pictures."

Late Late Update: The Enquirer now appears to have taken the whole post down -- the link above resolves to the main page of Bronson's blog. Bronson -- who is always right, of course -- has put up a new blog post (for now) admitting that the diaper photo isn't real, and explaining that he replaced it with a Stuart Smalley pic. This new post, in which he admits his own error, is entitled "Changing Al Franken's diaper."

File this away under house keeping and/or leading indicators. After bidding farewell to his boss earlier this year, a one-time spokesman for Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) has returned--as spokesman for Sestak's political campaign.

Joe Langdon departed from his position as Sestak's communications director in May, about two weeks before we revealed that Sestak was raising money from supporters in advance of a run for Senate. Now, he confirms, he's back with the Admiral--this time working for Sestak's political campaign, "Sestak for Congress."

The news comes as Sestak continues a three-week long marathon tour across Pennsylvania.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) just held a joint media appearance with Sen.-elect Al Franken (D-MN), with each of them giving a short statement, and possibly both seeking to counter the expectation that the former comedian will be a goofy politician -- Reid did so by citing the words of a Republican former Congressman, and Franken by simply being a serious, straightforward incoming Senator:



"I'm very happy to welcome to our Capitol, Sen-elect Al Franken. He ran a very hard-fought race and that's an understatement," said Reid. "I was talking to Al a few minutes ago and told him about my hectic race that took six weeks before the results were in. His took eight months."

Franken quite naturally smiled and let out a slight laugh during this discussion of a hectic race that took a whole six weeks to decide.

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Thousands of right-wing activists across this country rang in the Independence Day holiday with yet another round of tea-party protests against President Obama, inadvertently highlighting an interesting divide in the Republican Party. On the one hand are the hard-line activists who attend these things, versus the more mainstream politicians who want to win elections and are looking for their votes -- and are running into all manner of conflicts as a result, or finding themselves taking on some rather interesting policy stances along the way.

Most notably, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who is chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, was booed at the event in Austin -- on the grounds that he's part of the problem in Washington, having voted for the Wall St. bailout last fall. "I'm not part of Washington," Cornyn said in his own defense. "I happen to work there, but on behalf of Texas, and I can vote 'no' on these reckless spending bills, on the refusal to cut taxes."



Gov. Rick Perry -- who famously seemed to raise the specter of Texas seceding from the union during the April Tax Day protests -- was also booed at the same Austin event as Cornyn. Attendees saw him as yet another tax-hiking tyrant, because he supports toll roads in order to relieve traffic congestion.

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At least two of the key senators writing health care reform legislation seem to think a pre-August recess deadline for passing a bill in the Senate is too ambitious. Speaking on Face the Nation on Sunday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said a completed Senate bill might have to wait until September. "If we can reach a compromise, we can get this done by Aug. 8 or at least get it out of committee by Aug. 8," Grassley said.

Likewise, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT)--who has taken the lead on health care reform efforts in the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, doesn't sound terribly optimistic. According to Roll Call, Dodd "signaled late last week that Democratic leaders do not expect a bill to clear the Senate in the next five weeks." Instead, Dodd thinks a more realistic goal is to merge the HELP and Finance committee bills before recess and debate the bill on the floor after Labor Day--a process that, if all goes smoothly, may still take two weeks.

All of which calls into doubt whether a final bill will reach President Obama's desk by mid-October, as he's requested.

Rep. Pete King (R-NY), a potential Senate candidate in 2010 against either incumbent Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand or Rep. Carolyn Maloney -- it depends on who wins that primary -- has taken to YouTube to send a strong message about media coverage of Michael Jackson, as opposed to coverage of real heroes like our servicemen and women, teachers in rough neighborhoods, policemen, firefighters, doctors and nurses, etc.:



"Let's knock out the psychobabble, this guy was a pervert, he was a child molester, he was a pedophile, and to be giving this much coverage to him day in and day out, what does it say about us and our country?" said King. "I just think it's too - we're too politically correct. No one wants to stand up and say, 'We don't need Michael Jackson.' You know, he died, he had some talent. Fine. But people are dying everyday. There's men and women are dying in Afghanistan. Let's give them the credit they deserve."

FBI: Palin Not Under Investigation The Anchorage Daily News reports that the FBI has taken the unusual step of affirmatively declaring that Sarah Palin is not under investigation. "We are not investigating her," said FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez. "Normally we don't confirm or deny those kind of allegations out there, but by not doing so it just casts her in a very bad light. There is just no truth to those rumors out there in the blogosphere."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrived in Moscow this morning. At 6 a.m. ET (2 p.m. local time), Obama participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Russian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. At 6:50 a.m. ET, he met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, with an expanded working meeting at 7:25 a.m. ET. At 10:30 a.m. ET, they will hold a joint press conference. At 11:30 a.m. ET, Obama and the First Lady will meet with U.S. Embassy personnel. At 12:35 p.m. ET, the Obamas will have dinner with President Medvedev and Russian First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva.

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