TPM News

Gibbs: GOP Could Win House Appearing on Meet The Press, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged that the Republicans could potentially win the House of Representatives: " I think there's no doubt that there are a lot of seats that will be up, a lot of contested seats. I think people are going to have a choice to make in the fall. But I think there's no doubt there are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control. There's no doubt about that. This will depend on strong campaigns by Democrats. And again, I think we've got to take the issues to them. You know, are--do you want to put in, in to the speakership of the House a guy who thinks that the, the financial calamity is, is tantamount to an ant? The guy who's the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Joe Barton, started his congressional testimony of the CEO of BP by apologizing, not to the people in the gulf, but to the CEO. I think that's a perfect window, not into what people are thinking, but the way they would govern. Joe Barton, John Boehner, those are the type of things you'll hear a lot, I think, from both the president and local candidates about what you'd get if the Republicans were to gain control."

Holder: DOJ Not Ruling Out Racial Profiling Suit Against Arizona Law Also during his appearance on Face The Nation, Attorney General Eric Holder explained that the federal government was not ruling out opposing the Arizona illegal immigration law on the grounds of racial profiling, in addition to the federal preemption argument that is currently the basis for their lawsuit against the statute. "It doesn't mean that if the law, for whatever reason, happened to go into effect that six months from now, a year from now, we might not look at the impact the law has had and... see whether or not there has been that racial profiling impact," he said. "And if that was the case, we would have the tools, and we would bring suit on that basis."

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Obama: Government Help Veterans With PTSD Receive Benefits In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama announced that the government would be making it easier for veterans to apply for benefits involving post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Well, I don't think our troops on the battlefield should have to take notes to keep for a claims application. And I've met enough veterans to know that you don't have to engage in a firefight to endure the trauma of war. So we're changing the way things are done," said Obama. "On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs, led by Secretary Eric Shinseki, will begin making it easier for a veteran with PTSD to get the benefits he or she needs. This is a long-overdue step that will help veterans not just of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, but generations of their brave predecessors who proudly served and sacrificed in all our wars. It's a step that proves America will always be here for our veterans, just as they've been there for us. We won't let them down. We take care of our own. And as long as I'm Commander-in-Chief, that's what we're going to keep doing. Thank you."

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1||July 9, 2010: Eleven Russian secret agents -- many of them rather incompetent spies posing as ordinary Americans -- are deported from New York and swapped in Austria for captured U.S. spies. The Russian spies captured the hearts and minds of Americans, which got us thinking how ripe it is for a star-studded Hollywood movie. So here's who TPM would cast in the inevitable film version...

Anna Chapman, 28, would be played by Amy Adams. The socialite, who was all over the news once her cover was blown, ran an online real-estate business in Manhattan, and met with an undercover U.S. agent posing as a Russian contact. Their conversations sound like they could go straight to the big screen: Undercover agent: "Are you ready for this [next] step?" Chapman: "Shit, of course."||Newscom/Sipa/PHL&&

2||Mikhail Semenko is played by Hayden Christensen. Semenko was a travel agent based in Arlington, Virginia. The Seton Hall graduate was reportedly "pretty much just super socially awkward... He always said weird jokes that no one really got. Probably super smart though."

Which, if you've seen the newer Star Wars movies, at least half-describes Christensen's performance.||Via Gawker/ Newscom/Zuma&&

3||Christopher Metsos? John Malkovich. Metsos was arrested in Cyprus on June 29. Metsos is believed to have controlled the operation's money, but fled after being released on $33,000 bail.

As a fugitive, Metsos has plenty in common with Malkovich's character in Con-Air, who led a gang of prisoners to take over a transport plane. ||Newscom/Sipa/DPA&&

4||Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones as Juan Lazaro and Vicky Pelaez, a married couple who lived with their teenage son in Yonkers, New York. Pelaez was born in Peru, and worked as a columnist for the Spanish-language paper El Diario La Prensa. In 2008, Lazaro taught a class on Latin American and Caribbean politics at Baruch College in Manhattan.

Douglas played a judge-turned-drug czar in Traffic; Zeta-Jones tried to track art thief Sean Connery in Entrapment -- it's time these two went over to the other side of the law. Plus they're married in real life! Type-casting! ||ABCnews/Newscom/SPN&&

5||Richard Murphy has the pleasure of being played by Jon Hamm. Murphy was one half of a spy couple who lived with two daughters in the suburb of Montclair, New Jersey.

Just like Murphy, Hamm's character Don Draper on the TV show Mad Men is protecting secrets underneath his suburban lifestyle and rakish good looks. ||ABCnews/Newscom/SPN&&

6||Cynthia Murphy's played by Tilda Swinton. Murphy, the other half of the New Jersey spy couple, earned her MBA just before her arrest, and was working in lower Manhattan for high-priced accounting firm Morea Financial Services.

In The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Swinton played the White Witch, who uses magic to bestow eternal winter on the land of Narnia. AKA Siberia?||Newscom/Zuma&&

7||Igor Sutyagin's played by Rob Corddry. Sutyagin, an American arms control researcher imprisoned in Russia for the last 11 years, was among those swapped back to the U.S. in exchange for the Russians. Sutyagin had denied being guilty of espionage, but agreed to plead guilty in exchange for his freedom.

Aside from the physical resemblance, Corddry could provide some much-needed comic relief to the story, hilariously maintaining his innocence to a group of intimidating, yet ultimately lovable Russian prison guards. Or maybe he can use his Hot Tub Time Machine to time travel back 11 years, and never get arrested at all!||Newscom/TASSphotos/WENN&&

8||Anna Chapman's attorney Robert Baum gets the Victor Garber treatment. Baum said in a press conference after Chapman's guilty plea that his client was "somewhat disappointed" by her deportation, but "she was not afraid about going back home. She has no fear whatsoever."

Garber has a lot of experience playing the father figure to troubled female spies, as he did to Jennifer Garner's Sydney Bristow on the TV show Alias. ||Newscom/UPI/Pacific&&

9||William Shatner as rich New Jersey businessman Michael Bittan, who Anna Chapman reportedly told friends she was dating.

Shatner...is just Shatner. ||Newscom/Sipa/Zuma&&

10||And, of course, Vladimir Putin as...himself! The Russian prime minister openly criticized the United States for arresting the spies, though he had also expressed hope that the incident wouldn't harm relations between the two countries. In a meeting with former President Bill Clinton, Putin even implied that he thought the arrests had been orchestrated and timed by "hawkish elements" in the U.S. government to embarrass President Obama.

Putin has been spotted over the years participating in every activity from badminton to horseback riding to skiing. One can only hope acting is next!||Newscom/TASS&&

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell is hitting back against criticisms of the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell survey, which was distributed to 400,000 members of the Armed Forces this week. Critics have blasted the survey for everything from its focus on the troops' supposed feelings about showering with gay and lesbian colleagues to its use of the bias-engendering term "homosexual." In a conference call with reporters this afternoon, Morrell was having none of it.

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There are no shortage of conservatives in Louisiana who'd like to retire David Vitter. But late this afternoon, one prominent Republican decided to make a go of it, entering the race at the last possible moment to take on the scandal-plagued senator in the GOP primary this August.

Meet Chet Traylor, a former Louisiana Supreme Court Justice well-connected in Louisiana Republican political and business circles circles, who surprised everyone this afternoon by qualifying at the witching hour to challenge Vitter.

Vitter has plenty of money in the bank and, with just weeks to go, time on his side. But Traylor could catch up quickly.

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There's no love lost between Nikki Haley and the South Carolina chapter of the Chamber of Commerce. The state Chamber had never made an endorsement in the governor's race before this year, but it picked Haley's primary challenger Gresham Barrett (Haley walloped him). The chamber also endorsed Vincent Sheheen on the Democratic side during the primary. So with the primaries over and Haley facing Sheheen in the general, a pro-business group goes with the Republican, right? Wrong.

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Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA).

• CBS, Face The Nation: Attorney General Eric Holder.

• CNN, State Of The Union: Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), BP Victim Compensation Fund administrator Ken Feinberg.

• Fox News Sunday: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ).

• NBC, Meet The Press: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

You didn't think the resurrection of death panels would begin and end with one Fox News legal contributor, did you? Donald Berwick's supposedly nefarious plans for the nation's seniors from his ominpotent perch atop the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (reporting to the Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services) are far too dangerous for that -- and Rep. Michele Bachmann knows it.

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