In it, but not of it. TPM DC

When Rep. Dennis Moore (D-KS) asked Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit about his 2008 compensation last month, Pandit gave a simple answer: $1 million. Except the truth wasn't so simple.

Pandit actually received $11 million as part of a lavish package of stock awards and retention pay, making his testimony to Moore dangerously close to an outright falsehood. And Moore is calling on Pandit to explain himself in a frustrated letter sent yesterday, a copy of which has been obtained by TPMDC.

Moore writes:

While I was initially pleased to hear you agree to take a salary of $1 per year with no bonus until Citi returns to profitability, I am deeply troubled by this latest news. Should we expect additional, unexpected announcements of bonuses or financial compensation for your work in 2008 or going forward until Citi returns to profitability?

Former GOP Senator Chuck Hagel is now vocally blasting his party -- or more specifically, the state of the party as it stands now under the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Michael Steele.

Hagel spoke to David Corn yesterday, describing Rush Limbaugh as "the center of gravity" for the current GOP. "We need a new center of gravity," Hagel made clear.

Hagel was also sharply critical of Michael Steele's public discussion about potential primary challenges to Arlen Specter, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe for backing the stimulus bill. "People expect serious people to deal with serious issues and to govern seriously," said Hagel. "And when you don't do that, you become irrelevant."

A new national survey from Public Policy Polling (D) -- already looking ahead to the 2012 general election! -- pits Barack Obama against Sarah Palin.

The numbers: Obama 55%, Palin 35%. This margin is nearly identical to Obama's approval of 55% and disapproval of 37%. Palin's own personal favorables and unfavorables stand at 39%-50%.

The pollster's analysis has the obvious caveat that we can't know what might happen in the next few years, but these numbers would point to Obama winning over 400 electoral votes.

On the other hand, just think of the stability of our two-party political system, that somebody running against Sarah Palin would only lead by 20 points.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and his GOP counterpart, Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA), have unveiled a plan to prevent future AIG-type bonuses from getting paid out by imposing a 35% excise tax on both individuals and companies involved in such awards.

Baucus' and Grassley's plan closely resembles the bonus tax proposal that Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) added to the economic stimulus bill -- before it was unceremoniously yanked from the final version of the measure.

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Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) told The Hill that he will not become a Democrat -- but he might become an independent.

"I'm staying a Republican because I think I have a more important role to play there," he said. "I think the United States very desperately needs a two-party system. ... And I'm afraid that we're becoming a one-party system, with Republicans becoming just a regional party."

On the other hand, Specter left the door open to the idea of running as an independent, though he would continue to caucus as a Republican.

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AIG CEO To Defend Company And Bonuses Before Congress Today AIG CEO Edward Liddy will be testifying today before the House Financial Services subcommittee, defending his company amidst the public uproar over the massive bonuses paid to its Financial Products division. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. ET.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama is holding a closed meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at 10:45 a.m. ET.

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Here's the newest ad from Jim Tedisco, the Republican candidate for Kirsten Gillibrand's former House seat -- seemingly tying himself to Barack Obama:



Tedisco says: "Like the President says, in these difficult times, we're not Republicans or Democrats -- we're Americans. And that's the team I'm on."

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We might all be waiting on a ruling from the Minnesota election court -- but even that doesn't stop the stream of interesting legal filings in this never-ending dispute.

The Star-Tribune reports that the the Franken campaign submitted over the weekend their specific list of rejected absentee ballots to be considered for counting, and it adds up to 430 envelopes -- 131 more than the number they'd given during closing arguments. All the ballots were already in evidence, so this is still allowable.

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Have you been wondering whether Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is leaving some key details out in the chronology of his negotiations with AIG CEO Edward Liddy?

Since Geithner knew about Liddy's plans to pay out the company's now-infamous bonuses before they became public on Saturday -- and since the bonuses have been common knowledge in the media for months -- it's worth asking how directly Treasury was involved in okaying the payouts.

But it's too bad for Democrats that Republicans are the ones seeking the information.

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The answer, of course, is fallen-from-grace New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D).

His pursuit of alleged wrongdoing at AIG was so relentless that some conservative-leaning commentators attempted to pin the company's downfall on Spitzer ... who had his own downfall to deal with by then.

But for no other reason than his insider's knowledge of AIG, it's worth reading Spitzer's take on the troubled company. The ex-governor agrees with Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), who told TPMDC yesterday that the brouhaha over bonuses is a "red herring" of sorts that distracts attention from the truth of the AIG bailout: $100 billion of the taxpayers' $170 billion went not to bonuses, but to bailing out AIG's counterparties.

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