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The Times Neil Lewis

The Times' Neil Lewis, <$NoAd$>caught between the bam and the boozle in this just-released piece ...

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the Republican chairman of the committee, who has tried to embarrass both sides into forging a compromise, blamed both Democrats and his Republican colleagues for the situation.

"If the Democrats voted their conscience and the Republicans weren't bound by the party line straitjacket," he said, there would be no need to change the rules and precipitate the impending crisis.

He said that the "nuclear-constitutional option" was "the talk of the Senate floor" and that "people are talking about it with an intensity."

His "nuclear-constitutional" label for the rules change was a combination of both sides' terms. Democrats have called the rules change the "nuclear" option, emphasizing its destructive potential. Republicans have taken to calling it the "constitutional" option, stressing their assertion that it is in accord with the Constitution, which does not explicitly provide for the filibuster.

Calling this the "nuclear-constitutional option" would seem to raise certain nettlesome originalism issues unless the Founders were even more farsighted than some of us have been willing to imagine. And it's possible that Specter was trying for a subtle homage to Tim Russert's famous "private personal accounts" walkaround. But on the face of it I can't tell who's more tied up in knots, Specter or Lewis.

Feel the buzz in

Feel the buzz in your pocket the moment Bill Frist goes nuclear!

And, no, it's not as weird as it sounds!

People for the American Way is setting up a "Nuclear Option" Mass Immediate Response which may even prove more effective than those drills we had in grade school where you kneel under the desk. (Actually, come to think of it, those memories I have from Southern California in the 1970s must have been earthquake drills. But, hey, with age the memory fades.)

You can sign up here and you'll get the word by text message the moment that Sen. Bill "That Building Has My Name on It" Frist pulls the nuclear trigger and info on who you can call to make your opposition heard.

Medved-Chocola Smackdown UpdateWere trying

Medved-Chocola Smackdown Update!

We're trying to keep close tabs on the emerging war of bamboozlement between talk radio host Michael Medved and Congressman Chris Chocola (R) of Indiana, aka 'The Count'.

Actually, I don't want to prejudice the question, since, as you know, yesterday on Medved's show, Medved claimed Chocola was not in fact a real member of Congress. That was after guest Hans Riemer quoted the Count's famous call for 100% 'privatization' of Social Security.

But now, we need to appeal to you, the TPM masses, to help fully report the story. In an exclusive interview this afternoon, conducted via the latest in IM technology, Riemer told TPM: "When I quoted Chocola to him he was like, Choco-who? What? Who is that? I've never heard of him. Where is he from? What? Indiana? C'mon. I've never heard of him and frankly I doubt that he's a real Congresman."

When he contacted the Medved show today trying to get a copy of the segment in question, though, the diligent Riemer was told that they would send him a copy on a CD which wouldn't arrive for a week.

Now, we don't know whether that means the Medved show still uses one of those old-fashioned steam-powered CD forges or whether they're sending it via the pony express. But one way or another we'd really rather not make you wait a week without getting to the bottom of the Medved-Count feud.

So, if someone out there has a recording -- perhaps a producer from a local station or someone else who just happens to have a copy -- please let us know.

A TPM Privatize This! T-Shirt for whoever can get us a tape or a transcript first.

Late Update: Riemer adds to the bounty! Riemer has now announced that the person who produces the aforesaid record of attempted bamboozlement will receive not only the T-Shirt but two free tickets (count 'em, not one but two!) to the Rock The Vote Awards Dinner after party in DC on June 8th.

Who will back down

Who will back down first in the Mike Medved - Rep. Chris Chocola (R) grudge match?

As we noted yesterday, Rock the Vote's Hans Riemer went on Medved's show yesterday. And Medved not only denied that any Republican was for 'privatization' but once Hans confronted Medved with the Count's October 2000 quote (one of perhaps a million examples) endorsing total privatization of Social Security, Medved denied that Chocola was even a real congressman.

Now, admittedly, this places us in a somewhat compromised position, because we've never thought of the Count as a real congressman either. Still, you wouldn't think this is a charge the Count himself would sit still for.

Please let us know if Medved cuts the Count any slack on his show today or whether he keeps up his anti-Count crusade.

Late Update: Hans himself has an update. Check it out.

A criminal investigation into

A criminal investigation into why those three non-Bush-loyalists were booted from the Bamboozlepalooza event in Denver back in March?

A local TV station reports that the lawyer for the three says his clients were questioned yesterday as "part of an investigation into whether a man dressed in a dark suit and wearing an earpiece criminally impersonated a Secret Service agent when he escorted the three Denver residents out of the March 21 event."

The local office of the Secret Service confirmed that they are conducting a continuing investigation but declined to comment on the specifics.