In it, but not of it. TPM DC

DCCC has sent out another fundraising e-mail, responding to an NRCC e-mail that claimed Dems were trying to "pull a Franken" and steal the NY-20 special election.

The new e-mail, authored by Paul Begala, takes the form of forwarding the original NRCC e-mail -- though with the links to the NRCC's donation page disabled, of course -- and marveling at the accusation:

Yup. The same party that stole an entire Presidential election in 2000 and is right now still trying to steal a Senate race in Minnesota just sent this outrageous e-mail to their supporters. They're accusing us of trying to steal the too-close-to-call special election in New York's 20th District, even though Democratic candidate Scott Murphy led the vote count on Election Night!

I just had to forward their e-mail so you can see what we're up against. Read it below!

It's possible that Republican Jim Tedisco may have actually taken a lead, as the counties are going through the standard process of correcting initial errors in their spreadsheets -- and again, this doesn't include any absentee ballots. But at the time the NRCC sent out that accusation that Dems were trying to steal it, Democrat Scott Murphy was in fact ahead in all available counts.

Check out the full Begala e-mail, after the jump.

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A new Gallup poll tests how former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney have fared in public opinion since they left office. The answer: Badly.

Bush's favorable rating is only 35%, with 63% unfavorable. Cheney is at 30% favorable to 62% unfavorable.

Bush's popularity had been inching up a bit over the course of the 2008 campaign and as he was on the way out -- up to a high of 40% favorable and 59% unfavorable in early January -- but his numbers now are back near the all-time low of 32% favorable and 66% unfavorable from April 2008.

I noted earlier that two of the Senate's most conservative Democrats--Evan Bayh and Ben Nelson--voted against the Democrats' budget. That's not terribly surprising. The resolution wasn't vulnerable to a filibuster, their votes weren't strictly necessary, and, whether they were ideologically opposed to the measure that passed, or adhering to the demands of their conservative constituents, or bending to the whims of special interests, voting "no" allows them to say they voted "no" without necessarily wedding themselves to an alternative proposal.

Enter Mike Johanns, the freshman Republican senator from Nebraska whose amendment preventing the Senate from passing climate change legislation through the reconciliation process passed on Tuesday.

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Obama Seeking International Agreement On Afghanistan President Obama is meeting with NATO leaders today in France and Germany, seeking international backing for his new plans for Afghanistan and Pakistan. And so far he is picking up support, as French President Nicolas Sarkozy said at their joint news conference today: "We completely support the new American strategy in Afghanistan."

Obama's Day Ahead: France And Germany President Obama and Michelle Obama arrived this morning in Strasbourg, France, at about 4:45 a.m. ET. AT 5:35 a.m. ET he met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and at 6:35 a.m. ET the two briefly addressed the press pool. He held a town hall at 7:25 a.m. ET. At 9 a.m. ET the Obamas will leave for Baden-Baden, Germany, with Obama meeting Chancellor Angela Merkel at 9:45 a.m. ET. Obama and Merkel will address the press pool at 10:45 a.m. ET. President Obama and Michelle Obama will attend the NATO Concert at 1 p.m. ET, and President Obama will attend a NATO leaders working dinner at 2:15 p.m. ET. The Obamas will depart from Germany, going back to Strasbourg, at 5 p.m. ET.

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Last night the Senate passed their own budget resolution, too. The roll call is here--the final tally was 55-43 with two familiar Democrats (Evan Bayh and Ben Nelson) joining the Republicans, all of whom voted no. This allowed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to demagogue a little bit:

Over bipartisan opposition, Democrats in Congress passed a budget that clears the way for massive amounts of spending.... Although Democrats rejected several efforts to control spending, create jobs and cut the debt, Senate Republicans were able to slam the door on using the fast track process to jam through a new national energy tax. The strong bipartisan vote on this issue should serve as a clear warning to those involved in crafting the final budget: Americans vehemently oppose a new national energy tax that would hit them every time they flip on a light switch, watch TV, or drive the family car.

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The House GOP budget was up for a vote a few minutes ago and it...failed miserably; 137 in support, 293 (including 38 Republicans) against. Those are the only 38 Republicans in the House who don't think we need a spending freeze and tax cuts for the rich at this particular historical moment. However, none of those 38 civic-minded souls voted for the Democratic budget, which just passed 233-196.

How do I know that? Because as with the stimulus bill, zero Republicans voted with the Democrats on this major agenda item. Not surprisingly, though 20 Democrats voted with the Republicans against the Democratic resolution

I'll post roll calls later tonight or tomorrow, depending on when they become available.

Late update: Roll call on the GOP budget here, on the Democratic budget here.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Republicans are weighing the possibility of using their much-beloved filibuster to block Obama judicial and DOJ appointees.

The current Republican focus is on a pair of nominees: Mr. Obama's first selection for a federal appeals court seat, David F. Hamilton, and his choice to head the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department, Dawn Johnsen. (By coincidence, the two are in-laws.)

But will they actually prevent an up or down vote? Democrats say early signs are troubling.

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Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) -- who has been Minnesota's one and only Senator since the first week of January -- appeared on MSNBC today and fired back at NRSC chairman John Cornyn for saying this week that it could take "years" to resolve her state's disputed Senate race:

KLOBUCHAR: Well, one of the other things he said, David, he said that we could go in Minnesota with one senator for years. And I would love to know how Texas would like that. I think that Minnesota would prefer to make its own decisions. I think we have a process that's taken a while. I think it's a fair process. It's going to--after these votes are opened up, Norm Coleman will make a decision about whether he wants to go up to the Minnesota Supreme Court. There's a process in place for that. Then I'm hoping it's done.

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The NY-20 special election is now going to come down to the absentee ballots. For one thing, the Election Night numbers between Democratic candidate Scott Murphy and Republican Jim Tedisco are in a virtual tie as the vote totals are still being double-checked, but this does not take into account any absentee votes. So the next question becomes: Who exactly were the absentee voters?

This afternoon, with the assistance of TPM intern Versha Sharma, I called the various counties to get the breakdowns of how many of the returned absentee ballots have been from registered Democrats, registered Republicans, unaffiliated voters or people from any of the minor ideologically-driven parties that exist under New York's fusion-voting system.

So here's where we stand: From over 6,600 ballots that have been returned so far, Republicans are about 45%, Democrats 33%, with unaffiliated voters and minor parties making up the balance. Still more ballots can arrive in the mail between now and the deadline -- April 7 for most absentee voters, April 13 for overseas and military ballots -- but at this point the percentages probably won't change significantly.

And the bottom line answer, as you will see, is every bit as frustrating as the current status quo.

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House Democrats are hitting back against GOP distortions of climate change legislation and, more specifically, an MIT study on which we've reported extensively.

Earlier today Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA)--chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming--released a report on Republican energy and climate distortions called "Wrong in so many ways." The document (which can be read here) addresses four common Republican arguments about climate change legislation, including the controversy over the MIT study:

Rep. Boehner and others don't mention that revenues from a carbon pollution control program could be returned to consumers, or used to invest in clean energy jobs and cost-saving energy efficient technology. So it focuses on all the costs and ignores the benefits. It's just more of the same, tired arguments from a party out of ideas on energy policy.

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