In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Norm Coleman's appeal of his defeat in the Minnesota election trial has not yet been argued before the Minnesota Supreme Court, but the two campaigns are busy litigating yet another point: How much Coleman's campaign will have to reimburse the Franken camp for legal costs under the loser-pays provision of the election law.

As of now, and as determined by the court clerk, Coleman will owe Franken about $94,000 for trial-related fees. Team Franken had asked for $161,000, which was then reduced by the clerk after the Coleman camp objected that some of these costs either didn't qualify or weren't sufficiently itemized.

This hardly begins to cover the millions that have been spent on legal fees, but it's one more thing for Coleman to worry about.

In documents that were filed by the opposing camps over the past two and a half weeks, but only just made available online, the legal teams argued over how much Coleman should have to pay -- and when he should have to pay it. Pending a hearing, which Coleman has ten days to request, that latter question is still up in the air.

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Barack Obama will soon nominate a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter, and the question of the month is whether that confirmation process will be smooth, or rough, or somewhere in between. The answer may depend in large part on who Obama picks, but as a proxy, many have pointed to Democrats ability (or lack thereof) to get Dawn Johnsen confirmed as the head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.

A better proxy, though, might be Obama's first federal court nominee. Obama tapped David Hamilton to fill a vacancy on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and, despite a moderate record on the bench, he's already running into some trouble.

Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans boycotted his first nomination hearing, and Sen. James Inhofe threatened to filibuster his confirmation, and now, after Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) became the panel's ranking member, Republicans are dragging their feet once again.

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Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Adm. Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

• CBS, Face The Nation: Former Sec. of State Colin Powell; Dr. Alvin Poussaint, psychiatrist, Harvard University.

• CNN, State Of The Union: Former Sec. of Homeland Security Tom Ridge; Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Richard Shelby (R-AL); and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND).

• Fox News Sunday: Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE).

• NBC, Meet The Press: Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA).

While guest-hosting Bill Bennett's radio show today, RNC Chairman Michael Steele complained that President Obama was never thoroughly vetted by the media -- especially on the matter of his ideology and his connections to Jeremiah Wright -- because the media wanted the black candidate to win:

"He was not vetted, because the press fell in love with the black man running for the office," said Steele. "Oh gee, wouldn't it be neat to do that? Gee, wouldn't it make all of our liberal guilt just go away? We can continue to ride around in our limousines and feel so lucky to live in an America with a black president."

At her weekly press briefing today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cited the bipartisan creation of a Pecora-like Financial Markets Commission as a signal achievement of the 111th Congress. The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act--signed into law by the President this week--creates a 10-member panel to investigate the causes of the financial crisis. Crucially, two of those 10 members will be appointed by the Speaker and, this morning, Pelosi suggested she has her eyes on at least one Republican.

No word yet on who that Republican might be.

The restrictions on who can be appointed are actually fairly limited. The bill requires that members must be U.S. citizens with experience in fields like banking, market regulation, taxation, finance, economics, and housing; and further specifies that current members of Congress and and other government employees are automatically disqualified.

That leaves a great number of experts, frauds, and thieves eligible for service. So whether or not Pelosi picks a Republican, now might be a good time to place bets on whether GOP leaders will appoint this guy to be the commission's vice chair.

On Wednesday, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to deny President Obama the funds he needs to shutter the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The stall may be temporary, but many are convinced that it's yet another example of the tired political dynamic in post-9/11 Washington whereby Democrats cave to cowing Republicans the moment the conversation turns to terrorism.

Two weeks ago, though, the GOP got a little bit ahead of itself. "Do you know of any community in the United States of America that would welcome terrorists -- former terrorists, would-be terrorists, people trained as terrorists -- that have been incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay into any community in this country?" asked Sen. Richard Shelby (R-KY).

The question was directed at Attorney General Eric Holder, who basically punted. But it turns out there are at least a few communities in the country that might just welcome a suspected terrorist or two to stay for a while.

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The Democratic attacks are starting to fly in this year's New Jersey gubernatorial race against former U.S. Attorney and current Republican candidate Chris Christie -- even though Christie hasn't actually won the Republican nomination yet, and is still facing an insurgent conservative candidate in the June 2 primary. It could be an effort to throw the primary to Christie's opponent -- or at least soften him up for the general.

A Democratic 527 group, the Mid-Atlantic Leadership Fund, is now running this attack ad accusing Christie of corruption -- that Christie awarded a no-bid government contract to a former U.S. Attorney who had previously declined to file charges against Christie's brother in a Wall Street scandal:

"Selective prosecutions, contracts for political allies," the announcer says. "Tell Chris Christie to cooperate with investigators, and tell Congress to end pay-to-play justice."

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It's been a fun week for Sen. Vitter (R-LA), the Christian-right champion whose career became bogged down in the D.C. Madam prostitution scandal in 2007. Here's what happened:

• It was briefly floated that former state Elections Commissioner Suzanne Terrell (R), who narrowly lost the 2002 Senate race to Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu, was considering a GOP primary challenge after Vitter had delayed the confirmation of the new head of FEMA.

• Just as quickly as she'd put her name out, Terrell put out a statement endorsing Vitter -- just as previous potential primary challengers like Tony Perkins or John Cooksey have done before her.

• Porn star Stormy Daniels formed an exploratory committee to run against Vitter. Daniels has said in the past that people are looking for honesty and integrity in their leaders -- meaning that her campaign would likely be a platform to remind voters about Vitter's indiscretions and hypocrisy.

A Republican source told me that they're feeling fine about Vitter. "We're confident he's gonna be fine, we're confident that he's gonna win," the source said. "He still enjoys high approval ratings, he spends a lot of time in the state talking about what's important to his constituents."

The Republican National Committee has put out this new Web ad, borrowing from the Democrats' infamous "Daisy" attack ad against Barry Goldwater in 1964 -- and likening the danger of Guantanamo detainees being brought on to U.S. soil to the 1960s threat of nuclear war with the Soviet Union:

Interestingly, this Web ad uses audio of the nuclear explosion from the Daisy ad, but the RNC wasn't daring enough to incorporate the full visual of a mushroom cloud. The ad also uses audio of Lyndon Johnson saying "These are the stakes!" but cuts off the full statement: "These are the stakes! To make a world in which all of God's children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die." That kind of aspiration for a world of love isn't exactly a GOP slogan these days.

The message of original Daisy spot, by the way, was that Goldwater would recklessly get us all killed. So it would logically follow that the message of this ad, of course, is that Obama will recklessly get us all killed.

It may be further evidence of the Republican Party's current doldrums that a top party spokesman, who will appear on Meet The Press this Sunday to debate a high-ranking Democrat, is none other than Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich will be facing off against Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), to discuss national security issues and the controversy surrounding Nancy Pelosi's claims against the CIA.

Consider the fact that Durbin is a top-ranking elected Democrat -- while Gingrich resigned as Speaker of the House a little over ten years ago.