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While speaking last night in Pennsylvania, former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) predicted that the Tea Party movement would be an important part of the Republican party -- the "militant wing," in fact.

Gingrich said that the Tea Party movement is a "natural expression of frustration with Republicans and anger at Democrats," the York Dispatch repots. However, he said that it would not turn into a third-party movement, but is instead "more likely to end up as the militant wing of the Republican Party."

One attendee, teacher Susan Livermore, disagreed with that characterization. "I wouldn't use the word 'militant,'" Livermore said, saying that is simply for lower taxes and "government getting out of my life."

Earlier today, we told you about a Pennsylvania legislator who accused her primary opponent of pretending to be bisexual in order to get votes from the large LGBT community in her Philadelphia district.

At a fundraiser a week ago, state Rep. Babette Josephs (D) told supporters that they couldn't trust her opponent, Gregg Kravitz, not to cheat at the polls. He had lied before, she said.

"I outed him as a straight person," she said, "and now he goes around telling people, quote, 'I swing both ways.'"

Reached this afternoon by TPM, however, she backed off a little from her claims.

"I don't even care, because a person's sexuality has nothing to do with any of this," Josephs said.

She may have thought better of it since Kravitz has accused her of "sending a damaging message" to the LGBT community, especially young people, by mocking his sexuality (which he maintains is sincere).

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Gen. Wesley Clark said Sen. Blanche Lincoln will do just fine in her primary against progressive favorite Bill Halter.

Today at the White House during a reception for Earth Day, I did a brief interview with Clark (D-AR). I was the pool reporter for the event, and filed a brief write-up for the rest of the press.

I asked Clark what he makes of the May 18 Democratic primary between Lincoln and Halter. Clark told me he's supporting Lincoln, though hasn't had time to campaign for her yet because of frequent travel out of the state.

"I think she'll succeed," Clark said. "I admire Blanche. She's a fine person."

President Obama was in New York City at noon today, calling on the financial industry to join with politicians in Washington trying to pass banking reform. Meanwhile, back in D.C., a group of Republican Senators was having their own discussions with business types -- but the kind of cooperation they were looking for was somewhat different.

Obama's speech was broadcast live on TV. The Republican meeting, held at the headquarters of the NRSC, was not as open to the press. In fact, an NRSC spokesperson said he didn't know it existed until I emailed him while I was standing outside the building watching a steady stream of Senators and well-heeled guests file in and out. The guests weren't talking either -- they hurried past, refusing to answer a single question about who they were or what they were doing there.

What was the big secret? A fundraiser for Florida Sen. George LeMieux's (R) "Protect America's Future" PAC featuring big name GOP Senators and lobbyists. Why the tight-lipped hustle past three reporters standing out front? Maybe the Republicans were concerned about how it looked. Or maybe they just wanted to get to the buffet.

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At the intersection of political paranoia and old-fashioned, clinical paranoia you'll find microchips. Tuesday, we brought you the story of a Georgia woman who appeared before lawmakers debating a microchip implant ban and testified that the Department of Defense had implanted a chip in her "vaginal-rectum area."

But the specter of forced microchip implants, or human-chipping, is no laughing matter for the lawmakers in eight states who, over the past several years, have presented bills to ban the still-essentially-hypothetical problem. Three of those states (California, Wisconsin and North Dakota) have passed legislation.

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Former U.S. Special Counsel Scott Bloch was charged today with criminal contempt of Congress in connection with his notorious use of Geeks On Call to scrub his computer while under investigation for misusing his office, according to a court filing in federal court in Washington.

The "information" filed today alleges that, responding to a request from the House oversight committee, Bloch failed to "state fully and completely the nature and extent of his instructions that Geeks On Call perform 'seven level wipes' on his [Office of Special Counsel]-issued computers" and the computers of two other appointees in the office. That was in late 2006.

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Lou Dobbs has been known to make an off-color remark or two about immigration, but even he has his limits.

In an interview with anti-immigration big-wig William Gheen, Dobbs called Gheen "a dangerous, dangerous distorter of reality" for claiming that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is gay.

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Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was asked, in a press gaggle with reporters today, about his loyalty to the GOP as rumors intensify that he'll drop out of the party and run for Senate as an independent. The verb tense of his answer may be one more drop in the bucket of speculation:

"I have very much enjoyed being a member of the Republican Party," he said.

Crist's poll numbers continue to fall against primary opponent Marco Rubio. The TPM Poll Average shows Crist trailing Rubio, 27.9% to 59.1%.

Rubio, who's running from Crist's right, has also been gathering big-name endorsements, including those of House Minority Whip Eric Cantor and former Vice President Cheney.

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It turns out that Senate candidate Sue Lowden (R-NV) is not the only politician out there who has promoted the idea of the barter system as part of health care. Yet another pro-barter Republican, state Rep. Mike Bell (R-TN), has been talking up the practices of Mennonites who pay doctors with vegetables.

Bell's made his comments last week, during discussion of a proposed state law that would attempt to nullify the federal health care insurance mandate in the state of Tennessee. Here is a transcript of a dialogue in committee between Bell and Democratic state Rep. Joe Towns, courtesy of the Nashville Scene, as Bell explained that many people get along without insurance:

Bell: They're some of the healthiest people you have ever seen. They pay cash when they go to the doctor. They work out arrangements with the hospitals if their children have to be hospitalized. This is an individual choice that we're talking about.

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The Nevada Republican Party is standing by Senate candidate Sue Lowden's suggestion that people use barter in order to lower health care costs. Instead of focusing on Lowden's specific example of a chicken, which Democrats have pounced on, the GOP suggests looking at Lowden's overall message of moving away from insurance and then negotiating with cash.

Although the party is officially neutral in the primary between Lowden, former UNLV basketball player Danny Tarkanian and former state Rep. Sharron Angle, Nevada GOP communications director Ciara Turns nevertheless offered a vigorous defense of Lowden's statements, and condemned the Democrats for the way that Lowden is being attacked.

"Well it's pretty clear that they're attacking the way she conveyed her message because they can't attack her message," said Turns. "Her message is pretty clear. She was clearly trying to make the point that if we moved away from an insurance-based system and more people started paying cash for their health care, then prices would come down. But they don't want to address that. The left doesn't, Harry Reid's campaign doesn't want to address that, because it's a legitimate point that they can't argue. And so they've decided to go after the way she delivered her message instead of the substance of it."

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