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It's looking more and more like Senator David Vitter (R-LA), the staunch social conservative whose career became mired in the D.C. Madam prostitution scandal in 2007, will have a very interesting re-election campaign on his hands for 2010, with yet another name being floated as a potential primary challenger.

Former Rep. John Cooksey, who ran for Senate in 2002 and came in third place with 14% in the multi-party open primary that Louisiana used at the time, is reportedly prepared to spend $200,000 of his own money on the race if a draft site shows him that he could get enough support.

Fun fact: Cooksey got in trouble during the 2002 cycle when he compared turbans to diapers, prompting the NRSC to recruit another Republican to get into the race against Dem Senator Mary Landrieu.

There are already two others who are considering getting into the GOP race, as well: Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, who would be challenging Vitter from the standpoint of a Christian Right activist, and porno star Stormy Daniels, who would wage a campaign to highlight Vitter's personal hypocrisy.

Looks like Ken Lewis isn't so eager to reveal what he knows about those controversial Merrill bonuses.

ABC News reports that that the Bank of America CEO -- subpoenaed recently by investigators for New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo -- refused to provide the AG's office with a list of which company execs got bonuses, and how much they were worth. (For good measure, ABC adds that Lewis traveled to New York for his testimony in a $50 million corporate jet. You can see video of Lewis' arrival here.)

In response, Cuomo's office issued a subpoena to B of A to turn over that information.

The session with Lewis was "ugly and combative," in ABC's paraphrase of New York officials.

Merrill CEO John Thain earlier refused to divulge similar details about the bonuses during his own sitdown with Cuomo's investigators -- claiming B of A had told him not to. But after the AG's office obtained a court order, he was more forthcoming.

We'll see whether the same thing happens with B of A. But for now, it looks like the Bush White House's approach to subpoenas -- that they're optional -- is becoming more widespread.

Your reporter tried to get a little private time with the former Massachusetts Governor but the throng around Mitt Romney was such that we wound up piggy backing on the interview of Salena Zito of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Here it is:

On "Radio Row" at the CPAC you'll find pols lined up to talk with conservative talk show hosts. After he stepped away from speaking with G. Gordon Liddy, TPM caught up with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay about where the GOP is heading and should head:

In addition to this morning's fireworks in the Minnesota courtroom, the court also just heard arguments on a very interesting motion from Team Coleman: That the court must take their ruling from two weeks ago to apply strict standards for letting in new ballots, and apply it retroactively to all the absentee ballots that were let in on Election Night.

The obvious problem here: There is no way to directly subtract votes, because the envelopes and the ballots were de-coupled on Election Night, and there is no way to reunite them.

Coleman lawyer James Langdon suggested a possible remedy -- though he's not advocating this yet -- would be to do a pro-rata reduction. That would be to take the number of invalid ballot envelopes, and proportionately deduct votes from each candidate according to the county or precinct results. Later on, he was even clearer in saying this was the only remedy.

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Reader T.A. notes that seeing the video of someone lying is more powerful than just reading the text.

So true! So here's the part of Bobby Jindal's speech from Tuesday night where he makes stuff up about Katrina. Enjoy...

A newly-released CNN poll, conducted just over a week ago, asked Republicans their choice for the 2012 nomination: Sarah Palin 29%, Mike Huckabee 26%, Mitt Romney 21%, Bobby Jindal 9%, Someone Else 10%. The margin of error is ±4.5%.

Bear in mind this poll as done before this week's address to Congress by President Obama -- and thus before Jindal's response speech.

So who knows what impact the speech has had on Jindal's numbers. It raised his name recognition, certainly -- but it wasn't exactly a good speech, and he's been ridiculed on all the late-night comedy shows. That, and it obviously predates today's news that he completely lied during his speech about his experiences in Hurricane Katrina.

Then again, Rush Limbaugh has been rallying the Republican base against the liberal media's ganging up on Jindal, and also against the Republicans who have joined in.

Looks like the game is up.

Remember that story Bobby Jindal told in his big speech Tuesday night -- about how during Katrina, he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a local sheriff who was battling government red tape to try to rescue stranded victims?

Turns out it wasn't actually, you know, true.

In the last few days, first Daily Kos, and then TPMmuckraker, raised serious questions about the story, based in part on the fact that no news reports we could find place Jindal in the affected area at the specific time at issue.

Jindal had described being in the office of Sheriff Harry Lee "during Katrina," and hearing him yelling into the phone at a government bureaucrat who was refusing to let him send volunteer boats out to rescue stranded storm victims, because they didn't have the necessary permits. Jindal said he told Lee, "that's ridiculous," prompting Lee to tell the bureaucrat that the rescue effort would go ahead and he or she could arrest both Lee and Jindal.

But now, a Jindal spokeswoman has admitted to Politico that in reality, Jindal overheard Lee talking about the episode to someone else by phone "days later." The spokeswoman said she thought Lee, who died in 2007, was being interviewed about the incident at the time.

This is no minor difference. Jindal's presence in Lee's office during the crisis itself was a key element of the story's intended appeal, putting him at the center of the action during the maelstrom. Just as important, Jindal implied that his support for the sheriff helped ensure the rescue went ahead. But it turns out Jindal wasn't there at the key moment, and played no role in making the rescue happen.

There's a larger point here, though. The central anecdote of the GOP's prime-time response to President Obama's speech, intended to illustrate the threat of excessive government regulation, turns out to have been made up.

Maybe it's time to rethink the premise.

Late Update: Politico's Ben Smith has updated his post with the following:

UPDATE: I'd initially misunderstood Sellers to be saying Jindal and Lee didn't meet while rescue efforts were still underway. In fact, she said, the conversation took place in the aftermath of the storm, but after the boat incident.

"Bobby and I walked into harry lee's office - he's yelling on the phone about a decision he's already made," Jindal chief of staff Timmy Teepell recalled. "He's saying this is a decision I made, and if you don't like it you can come and arrest me."

Teepell said the exchange took place in the week following Katrina, when Jindal visited Jefferson Parish multiple times.

"He was boots on the ground all the time," he said.


This doesn't seem to bear on the key question. As we said, the key elements of Jindal's story were that he was in Lee's office during the crisis itself, and that his support for the sheriff helped ensure the rescue went ahead. Neither of those things was true, it now seems.

Late Video Update: Here's the relevant section of Jindal's speech.



Late Late Update: Hilariously, Jindal's office keeps going back to Politico to try to straighten out its story, but it's only digging itself in deeper.

David Keene is one of the most important figures in the conservative movement. As Chairman of the American Conservative Union, the former aide to Bob Dole wields considerable behind-the-scenes influence in the movement. He spoke with TPM about what the movement needs to do and how this period in the wilderness compares with 1977 and 1993.

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