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Republicans are playing games with the debt ceiling, and that's totally cool with Stephen Colbert.

On Thursday night, Colbert broke down Republicans' political theater over the debt ceiling, noting how they brought a bill to the House floor that would have raised the debt ceiling with no strings attached, solely with the intent of voting that bill down.

Republicans have been in a bind between competing demands within their party's base. On one side, Tea Partiers want deep budget cuts in exchange for an increase to the debt ceiling -- terms that Democrats won't accept. On the other hand, businesses would rather see a compromise to avoid the disastrous fallout that could occur if Congress deadlocks over the debt ceiling.

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George Allen is really sorry about that macaca thing. Five years after he threw the slur at a Democratic tracker during the 2006 Senate campaign, Allen offered a long and emotional apology to a small crowd at the Faith and Family Conference.

"During our last campaign, I never should have singled out that young man working for my opponent calling him a name," said Allen, who's running again for the seat he lost in 2006. "He was just doing his job."

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Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) blamed the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict on a violent and resentful culture among Palestinians and the broader Arab world, condemning President Obama's call for new peace negotiations in a speech to the Faith & Freedom Conference on Friday.

Cantor recounted a story for the audience about a Palestinian woman from Gaza who was treated for injuries in a hospital in the Israeli city of Beer Sheva, only to return later as a would-be suicide bomber in a failed terrorist attack.

"You got to ask what type of culture leads one to do that?" he said. "Sadly it's a culture filled with resentment and hatred. It is that culture that underlies the Palestinians' and broader Arab world's refusal to accept Israel's right to exist, and this is the root of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians."

He added: "It's not about the 1967 lines," a dig at President Obama's position that Israel and the Palestinians should base negotiations on 1967 borders, with any changes based on mutually agreed land swaps.

In a rebuke to House GOP leaders, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour told reporters on Friday that Congress should authorize disaster relief funds even if they are not offset with spending cuts. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has said that the emergency funds to help Missouri residents affected by deadly tornadoes should be paid for with cuts elsewhere, a break from recent precedent.

"No," Barbour said when asked if he agreed with Cantor. "I think disaster relief is not predictable. Emergencies caused by tornadoes, hurricanes are not predictable. Even if Congress, which as far as I know they never have, set aside a pot of money, as some have proposed, and said, 'Okay, here's this money we're going to use to pay for disaster relief' -- if they were to do that and we had a gigantic disaster that cost much more than that, surely Congress would go back and appropriate the extra money. And if they didn't have a place to offset it, they should still go in and do it."

Mississippi has been hit hard in recent years by hurricanes and floods, most notably Hurricane Katrina, and was also affected by the BP oil spill off the Gulf Coast. Barbour told reporters on Friday, however, that he believed President Obama's moratorium on drilling permits was more damaging to his state than the spill.

A spokesman for Cantor noted to TPM that there were instances under the Republican Congresses of the 1990s in which disaster relief was offset elsewhere, including supplemental assistance to Oklahoma City in the wake of a terrorist attack by Timothy McVeigh.

This story has been updated.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman just finished speaking at the Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington, and his message to the social conservatives in the crowd was clear: I am one of you.

This is something of a tough sell for Huntsman, who is best known on the national scene as a moderate and stands out from the Republican presidential pack for his support of gay civil unions. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and other speakers this morning got big applause by talking about "traditional marriage," but Huntsman understandably stayed away from the topic.

Instead, he tried to sell himself as one of the nation's leading opponents of abortion. That's another favorite topic here, and the kind of thing Huntsman needs to be known for if he wants to win over wary conservative primary voters.

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