They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

Tom DeLay's former aides continued to make millions off their access to the onetime majority leader even after major scandals broke, new filings show.

Alexander Strategy Group may be no more, but they had their biggest year ever in 2005 -- before abruptly closing their doors in January of this year due to the Jack Abramoff probe.

The small firm, known for its unrivaled access to Tom DeLay, pulled down $8.13 million in 2005 from big-time clients like Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), UPS, RJ Reynolds, and the U.S. Telecom Association, making 2005 the firm's biggest year yet, according to lobbying disclosure records filed last week.

$170,000 of that came from Brent Wilkes, one of the defense contractors fingered for bribing Duke Cunningham in the congressman's guilty plea.

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Is the White House mulling regime change at the Pentagon?'s Laura Rozen thinks so. "Bush has put out a quiet feeler to replace Rumsfeld in recent weeks," she wrote this morning. "He was politely turned down by at least one candidate he personally called."

Turns out bin Laden hasn't always been the ascetic figure we've come to know. For a while in the 1990s, he appears to have gone through a rather unpleasant 70's-swinger phase.

The latest Harper's Magazine has an excerpt from the autobiography of novelist Kola Boof, onetime sex slave of the al Qaeda leader. She's the same woman quoted by the London Daily Mail that we noted earlier.

So what made bin Laden's disco ball spin? Smokin' some weed, listenin' to some Van Halen or the B-52's, checkin' out the booty, and talkin' government conspiracies, according to Boof. "To this day I hear the song 'Rock Lobster' in my sleep," Boof wrote.

The man could get going on his crazy government theories, too! "He said the U.S. government was made up of 'fanatical crusaders' and that he'd once been a mind reader for the U.S. government and trained secret agents for the CIA," Boof recalled.

He loved the badonkadonks: "Everywhere I went, his eyes followed my buttocks," Boof wrote. "His lust was thick." But he still found grounds for criticism. "Your ass is too big, show me the front," he once told her.

Despite all this, his Whitney Houston obsession stayed foremost in his mind:

He explained to me that to possess Whitney he would be willing to break his color rule and make her one of his wives. I tried to hide my outrage at his racist remarks, but it would come to pass that for the entire six months that I would be trapped in his palm, Whitney Houston's was the one name that would be mentioned constantly.

"Anyway," Boof wrote, "it would later come to the point where I was sick of hearing Whitney Houston's name."

Update: Harper's has posted the excerpt here.

This seems like an invaluable piece of intelligence. From the London Daily Mail -- Osama bin Laden's former sex slave says the al Qaeda leader has a "paramount desire" for Whitney Houston:

Terror mastermind Osama bin Laden is so obsessed with singer Whitney Houston he thought about killing her husband, Bobby Brown, it was claimed last night.

The suggestion is made by Sudanese poet and novelist Kola Boof, who claims she was bin Laden's sex slave for four months 10 years ago.

Boof has written a new autobiography. The paper quotes her book:

"Whitney Houston's name was the one that would be mention[ed] constantly.

"How beautiful she was, what a nice smile she has, how truly Islamic she is but is just brainwashed by American culture and by her husband Bobby Brown, whom Osama talked about having killed, as if it were normal to have women's husbands killed."

Boof also notes that bin Laden's favorite television programs include MacGyver (natch), the Wonder Years and Miami Vice. She also says she found copies of Playboy and Star magazine in his belongings. (via Gawker)

Calendars Show Armitage Met with Reporter "Then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage met with Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward in mid-June 2003, the same time the reporter has testified an administration official talked to him about CIA employee Valerie Plame.

"Armitage's official State Department calendars, provided to The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act, show a one-hour meeting marked "private appointment" with Woodward on June 13, 2003. . . .

"Armitage's calendar also shows that a week before Woodward's meeting with Armitage, the deputy secretary of state met for 15 minutes with [then-Cheney chief-of-staff Scooter] Libby." (AP)

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Today the judge presiding over felonious defense contractor Mitchell Wade's case set a March 12th, 2007 date for their next status conference. That means the leaves will have turned, snow fallen, and the first buds of spring sprung before Mitchell Wade will know his sentencing date. It could be as late as next summer.

Why the delay? It gives him plenty of time to earn his stripes as a cooperator.

Wade's known to have told prosecutors plenty about his alleged fellow briber, Brent Wilkes. He's thought to possibly have dirt on Pentagon officials, also. But remember, Wade oversaw over $150 million in contracts throughout the defense-intelligence world. Who knows what he's giving up?

TPMm reader James Roxbury sent us this video of what appears to be Wade leaving the courthouse today:

Video courtesy of James Roxbury.

David Wallace had thumbed his nose at the 22nd District Republican powwow last week and said he'd run no matter who they picked to be official write-in candidate. That "may have worked in Moscow," he said then.

Well, apparently it works in Sugar Land, too. After pressure from local and national Republicans, Wallace is dropping out, helping Republicans improve their prospects from hopeless (two write-in candidates) to dismal (only one).

Update: More here. Turns out the Republican National Committee had promised to put $3 million in the race -- but only if Wallace dropped out.

A PBS talk show will not routinely disclose that a "conservative commentator" on its panel is a senior appointee in the Bush administration.

Responding to criticism from her network's own ombudsman, "To the Contrary" host Bonnie Erbe has said she will not change her policy and identify government officials as such if they say they are appearing in a personal capacity. Network ombudsman Michael Getler suggested that Erbe identify the official in question, Karen Czarnecki, by verbally announcing her official title.

"Getler writes on the PBS website I should “at least describe the association verbally to viewers and state that she is not speaking for the department," Erbe says in her statement, posted to PBS. org. "I did so once about five years ago and am doing so again here." But apparently that's as far as it will go.

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British authorities charge 11 in terror plot with crimes, the Washington Post reports:

British authorities today announced terrorism and murder-conspiracy charges against 11 people in the alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners, saying their searches since Aug. 10 have uncovered large caches of bomb-making components as well as "martyrdom" tapes of the type often prepared by Islamic suicide bombers before they attack.

Charges may also be brought against 11 others arrested on Aug. 10, officials said in a televised news conference, as they continue what Scotland Yard described as a globe-spanning probe, nowhere near complete, of an "immense," "deadly" and "enduring" conspiracy to kill air passengers between the United Kingdom and the United States.

Democrats have tried to make a campaign theme out of the "culture of corruption" in GOP-run Washington. But stories like this don't help their cause one bit.

From his perch as the top Dem in the Senate, Harry Reid (D-NV) -- that's would-be Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to you, ma'am -- has been trying to do big favors for a close real estate developer/lobbyist friend, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday. Unfortunately for his pal, Reid's efforts were only middlingly effective.

How close is Reid to Harvey Whittemore? Reid's son, Leif, is Whittemore's personal lawyer. At one point or another, all four of Reid's sons have worked for Whittemore's law firm. Whittemore says the relationship goes back "decades." (Reid wouldn't comment to the Times for the article.) And Whittemore's given $45,000 to Reid's various organizations, plus $20,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Eight years ago, Whittemore sank at least $15 million for land and rights in a 67-square-mile tract of empty Nevada desert, the paper reported. There, he hoped to build a massive development of 159,000 homes, 16 golf courses, and requisite stores and services.

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