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The end is near, and now he faces the final curtain -- but Michael Steele has sure done it his way.

The Republican National Committee is holding its election for chair today, with the incumbent Chairman Steele widely expected to lose. He may very well put in a strong showing on the first ballot, though just about everyone expects opposition to him to eventually unify around a single opponent -- such as Wisconsin GOP chair Reince Priebus, the frontrunner in terms of publicly committed votes.

So let's have a look back at Steele's tenure at the RNC. If there is one consistent theme to Steele's gaffes, it is this: A desire to please the immediate audience that he is talking to at a given moment, without regard for the wider audience of the whole American political class that is watching. In particular, during Steele's various efforts at party outreach, when a person will criticize the GOP for some flaw, he will agree with the initial criticism before trying to discuss how we can all come together to fix the problem. But int he end, people only notice the agreement -- that is, putting down the party, or contradicting it on some key point -- without the benefit of actually winning over the converts.

So with that in mind, let's take a look at 10 great gaffes from Steele's tenure at the RNC. There have been many, of course -- but these are doozies.

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A group of lawyers for a retired firefighter want to legally stop Park51 from building its planned Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero.

The group, the American Center for Law and Justice, filed a motion in the New York Supreme Court on Tuesday asking for an injunction against any demolition or construction at the site of the old Burlington Coat Factory in downtown Manhattan. A group of developers and an imam want to turn the building into a community center.

But the firefighter, Timothy Brown, is one of those trying to stop the center from being built. With the ACLJ, he sued the city in August, challenging the Landmarks Preservation Commission's decision not to grant the building landmark status, which would have prevented developers from building their community center.

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Patrice Tierney, the wife of Rep. John Tierney (D-MA), was sentenced Thursday to 30 days in prison on federal charges of aiding in the filing of false tax returns for her fugitive brother.

Prosecutors say that Patrice Tierney managed the finances of her brother, Robert Eremian, who runs an online gambling business out of Antigua and is under indictment in the U.S. for money laundering and illegal gambling. Between 2005 and 2006, court documents say, Tierney took care of a U.S. bank account for Eremian, keeping detailed records which she gave to her brother's tax preparer. Eremian allegedly deposited some $7 million from illegal gambling proceeds into the account over those years.

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1||January 14, 2011: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) is no stranger to the national stage. He won a number of Republican primaries during his 2008 presidential campaign, and in the end garnered about 4.6 million votes. While he hasn't formally declared a 2012 bid for president yes, he has reportedly hired a pollster and a political director -- and is widely expected to run.||newscom/Red Carpet Pictures&&

2||||newscom/Brian Baer/MCT&&

3||Romney organized the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, after becoming CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the games.||newscom/Dean Rutz&&

4||Romney as a gubernatorial candidate in 2002 at the Massachusetts Republican Convention.||newscom/Picture Desk Photos&&

5||Romney in 2003 serves steak and eggs to veterans at the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans in Boston.||newscom/Picture Desk Photos&&

6||March 15, 2007: Mitt and Ann Romney on Larry King Live.||newscom/Prouser Rose/SIPA&&

7||February 4, 2002: Romney unveils the Olympic torch on the U.S. Capitol steps.||newscom/Scripps Howard Photo Service&&


9||Romney and other 2008 Republican presidential candidates. From left, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, Sam Brownback, Tommy Thompson and Romney.||newscom/ZUMA Press&&

10||September 27, 2007: Misti Weatherford serves Romney the "Presidential Special" at an IHOP in Natomas, California.||newscom/Brian Baer/MCT&&

11||||newscom/PR Newswire&&

12||November 28, 2007: Romney plays touch football with his five sons and supporters at Flora Wylie Park in St. Petersburg, Florida.||newscom/ZUMA Press&&

13||Romney talks to supporters at a campaign rally at the CNL Center in Orlando, Florida.||newscom/Joe Burbank/MCT&&

14||January 26, 2008: Romney holds up two twin brothers at a campaign stop in Lakeland, Florida.||newscom/Ramin Talaie Photography&&

15||January 30, 2008: McCain and Romney during the CNN/Los Angeles Times Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.||newscom/Jim Ruymen/UPI&&

16||January 2, 2007: Romney at a campaign rally in West Des Moines, Iowa.||newscom/Ramin Talaie&&

17||February 19, 2010: Romney during his speech at the CPAC 2010 conference in Washington.||newscom/ZUMA Press&&

18||Romney at the women's hockey game between the U.S. and China at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

See more of our 2012 GOPer slideshows here: Tim Pawlenty.||newscom/John Lok/MCT&&

Texas state Rep. Leo Berman (R), last seen getting shellacked by Anderson Cooper over his birther bill, is pushing a state constitutional amendment that would prevent Texas courts from considering "religious or cultural law" when handing down rulings.

Though the amendment doesn't specifically say anything about sharia law -- like a recently-blocked law in Oklahoma does, for example -- Berman said of the resolution: "A lot of federal courts are referring to international courts and laws of other countries. We want to make sure our courts are not doing this, especially in regards to cultural laws. If that includes Sharia law, then so be it."

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The Justice Department on Thursday filed a motion justifying the Defense of Marriage Act in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, appealing a federal judge's decision that the part of DOMA which defines marriage as between a man and a woman is unconstitutional.

But the appeal makes clear that the Obama administration doesn't support DOMA, and that the Justice Department was simply following tradition in defending even those laws the executive branch disagrees with.

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In what appears to be the first official reaction from a member of the Democratic leadership, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has now endorsed the call by Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) that members of both parties sit together at the upcoming State of the Union address, rather than separate into the Democratic and Republican aisles as they normally do.

"A gesture like this won't make partisanship disappear, nor should it -- democracy is built on strong disagreements between the parties," Hoyer said in a statement. "But this gesture, which was first suggested by the independent group Third Way and supported by Senator Mark Udall, should help end the political theater of repeatedly seeing one side of the aisle rise in applause, as the other sits still."

Late Update: As Greg Sargent reported today, Chuck Schumer has also endorsed the idea over on the Senate side.

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Several weeks ago, NewsTalk 790 KNST in Tucson put up a billboard to advertise Rush Limbaugh's radio show. The text reads, "Rush Limbaugh/Straight Shooter," and the ad is riddled with images of bullet holes. In the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and 18 others on Saturday, KNST's parent company, Clear Channel, decided to take down the billboard.

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