In it, but not of it. TPM DC

If Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA) does end up running for Senate against GOP incumbent David Vitter -- pitting a relatively conservative Democrat against a Christian Right champion whose career became mired in the D.C. Madam prostitution scandal of 2007 -- it could be good news for the Republicans in at least one respect. That is, the GOP feels pretty good that they can pick up Melancon's open district.

"It is one of the few districts in the country that actually trended more Republican last cycle," a Republican source told us. The district voted 61%-37% for John McCain in 2008, up from 58%-41% for George W. Bush in 2004.

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The New York Times sort of buried this over the weekend, but reform advocates have taken note--a vast majority of Americans favor a major overhaul of the U.S. health care system, including the creation of a government-run public insurance option.

The poll found that most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insurance and that they said the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector....

The national telephone survey, which was conducted from June 12 to 16, found that 72 percent of those questioned supported a government-administered insurance plan -- something like Medicare for those under 65 -- that would compete for customers with private insurers. Twenty percent said they were opposed.

The news has helped to shift the politics back into favorable territory for reformers after a week of bad news had many concerned--however briefly--that the public option was dead in the water. Democrats want a bill ready for President Obama's signature before the August Congressional recess, and the intervening month promises to be full of political whiplash along these lines. More on that in just a bit.

There can be no doubt that the situation in Iran really does make all of us Americans appreciate the rights we take for granted in a functioning representative democracy. For Marco Rubio, the conservative candidate in the 2010 Florida Senate primary, that means...the right to bear arms.

Check out this post that Rubio put up on Twitter:

I have a feeling the situation in Iran would be a little different if they had a 2nd amendment like ours.

Now on the one hand, it is true that things would probably be different right now if Iranians were heavily armed. But a) this is just one of many rights they don't have, and b) don't American conservatives usually oppose the heavy arming of people in that part of the world?

Two weeks ago, I noted that the Congressional Budget Office had completed a preliminary analysis of the Waxman-Markey climate change bill and determined that it would be a net deficit reducer over 10 years,

Whatever the merits of the legislation, that's an important political fact--one that makes it more difficult for Blue Dogs and other deficit hawks to oppose the bill on the inaccurate grounds that it will balloon the federal deficit. But, of course, that has only indirect bearing on the separate objection--much beloved by Republicans--that pricing carbon will be tantamount to a consumer tax. House Republicans in particular are fond of the canard that a cap and trade bill will cost the average household over $3,000.

Well, a more thorough CBO scoring reveals that they were only off by about a factor of 18.

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A new Mason-Dixon poll finds that Sen. John Engisn's (R-NV) favorable ratings have fallen sharply back home in Nevada, in the wake of his admission of an extramarital affair in 2007 and 2008 -- but there is hope for him.

Ensign's favorable rating has fallen to 39%, with 37% unfavorable. A month ago, before he'd admitted to the affair, his favorable rating had been a much heftier 53%-18%.

However, pollster Brad Coker told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that while Ensign's numbers have certainly fallen, it could be a lot worse: "The really significant question is that only 29 percent think he should resign right away. He does have the ability to stay on and turn this around."

Ensign is also fortunate to not be up for re-election until 2012, giving him plenty of time to turn this around, provided that no other shoes drop in this story.

Obama: U.S. Shouldn't Be Distraction For Iran In an interview with CBS, President Obama explained his cautious approach to the situation in Iran. "The last thing that I want to do," said Obama, "is to have the United States be a foil for -- those forces inside Iran who would love nothing better than to make this an argument about the United States. That's what they do. That's what we've already seen. We shouldn't be playing into that. There should be no distractions from the fact that the -- Iranian people are seeking to -- let their voices be heard."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will sign the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act today, at 2 p.m. ET in the Rose Garden. In the morning, he will have his routine daily briefings.

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That's what members of the Facebook group "We Support Harold Hongju Koh" believe.

Last night, after yesterday's phone bank, we got word from inside sources that Senator Reid believes Harold has enough votes, and has decided to file for cloture on the nomination sometime in the next two weeks. While we do not have an exact date yet, it's an indication that all of your calling is working!

A Think Progress source confirms this time line. Keep in mind, though, that as of two weeks ago, at least one anonymous senator had placed a hold on Koh's nomination, and holds are usually honored as a matter of courtesy in the Senate.

Ted Kennedy Records TV Ad For Dodd Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) has recorded this TV ad for Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), a friend and ally on health-care issues, whose popularity has fallen sharply back in his home state going into the 2010 election:

"Quality health care as a fundamental right for all Americans has been the cause of my life," says Kennedy, "and Chris Dodd has been my closest ally in this fight."

Poll: Overwhelming Support For Public Option A new CBS/New York Times poll finds overwhelming support for a government-run health plan that would compete with the private sector -- also known as the public option -- at 72% in favor to only 20% against. Also, 57% are willing to pay higher taxes in exchange for health insurance for all, to 37% against, with support falling to 43%-49% when a specific price tag of $500 is attached.

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Obama Calls For Consumer Financial Protection In this weekend's Presidential YouTube Address, President Obama advocated for a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, to crack down on complicated and deceptive lending practices:

"This new agency will have the responsibility to change that," said Obama. "It will have the power to set tough new rules so that companies compete by offering innovative products that consumers actually want - and actually understand. Those ridiculous contracts - pages of fine print that no one can figure out - will be a thing of the past. You'll be able to compare products - with descriptions in plain language - to see what is best for you. The most unfair practices will be banned. The rules will be enforced."

McConnell: Democrats Are "Rush And Spend" On Health Care -- Like With Stimulus In this weekend's Republican YouTube, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) warned that Democratic proposals on health care will spend too much money -- and compared it unfavorably with the stimulus:

"If the stimulus bill taught us anything, it's that we should be wary anytime someone in Washington says the sky's going to fall unless Congress approves trillions of dollars immediately," said McConnell. "Yet once again in the health care debate, it's rush and spend, rush and spend. Americans want health care reform, but they want the right health care reform. And that means taking the time and the care necessary to get it right."

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A new group is set to launch in the House of Representatives, made up of conservatives set on defending American power and interests against encroachment from international institutions: The Congressional Sovereignty Caucus.

Their kickoff meeting will be this coming Wednesday, featuring co-founders Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), plus Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) -- and special guests Oliver North, Frank Gaffney and Doug Feith.

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