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ACORN employees caught in those undercover videos advising a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute on how to break the law acted unprofessionally and inappropriately, but did nothing illegal, a report commissioned by ACORN and conducted by an independent investigator has found.

The report, by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, recommends nine steps for ACORN to take in order to regain public trust in the wake of the scandal, including that it return to its "core competency - community organizing and citizen engagement empowerment, with related services."

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A man who claims he witnessed a "dry run" by Muslim hijackers on a plane at Atlanta's airport last month told TPMmuckraker this morning he is standing by his story, despite several holes in the tale and the carrier's claim he was not even on the plane.

In an email account of his experience that went national on right-wing blogs last week, Tedd Petruna describes a group of 11 Muslim men "in full attire" who created a disturbance on a Nov. 17 AirTran flight on the runway at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport.

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This morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the Senate floor to make a plea for passing health care reform, comparing it to the fight for civil rights, women's suffrage and an end to slavery. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) took offense.

Here's what Reid said:

Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all the Republicans can come up with is this:, 'slow down, stop everything, let's start over.' If you think you've heard these same excuses before, you're right. When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said, 'Slow down, it's too early, let's wait, things aren't bad enough.' When women spoke up for the right to speak up, they wanted to vote, some insisted they simply, slow down, there will be a better day to do that, today isn't quite right. When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to everyone regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats we hear today.

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The White House has deployed Vice President Joe Biden again on health care, this time to blast what he says are "distortions" on Medicare.

In a new Web video at WhiteHouse.gov, Biden says he's spent his career fighting for Medicare.

He says health care critics are using "malarkey" and scare tactics, and even mention's Sen. Tom Coburn's "die sooner" health care remarks on the Senate floor.

"We're not raiding Medicare," Biden says in the nearly 5-minute long video, which you can watch after the jump.

The White House says the video is an attempt to explain to seniors how the bill being debated on Capitol Hill will "strengthen and preserve Medicare and provide benefits for seniors."

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After a press event supporting a patient's bill of rights, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)--a staunch public option supporter, told reporters she'd be happy with a health care bill without a public option, so long as it accomplishes the public option's imperatives of lowering costs and providing competition.

"If we can do the same thing [as a public option] through another mechanism, and get broader support, I'm willing to look at that," Stabenow said.

"For those of us who want a public option, we have to look at why did we want it: Not the name I didn't support the public option because of its name. I supported a public option because of what it did. So if we can accomplish it without calling it that, that works for me."

Stabenow said the CBO will play a big part in determining whether any of the compromise proposals actually succeed on that score. "That's why these things, we can't immediately say yes or no to, because we have to look at it in the context of the whole bill, making sure we're keeping our commitment to lower the deficit," she said.

Whether liberal and conservative Democrats can reach accord on the public option--and what accord they actually reach--are perhaps the most crucial unresolved questions hanging over the Senate health care debate. We'll be keeping an eye on all of it.

Pro-choice Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) says she's confident an abortion amendment to the Senate health care bill--written by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and modeled on the restrictive abortion provision in the House legislation--does not have the votes to pass

"I don't believe it's going to pass, whether it's today or tomorrow," Stabenow said at a press event this morning. "I truly believe that the votes are there in order to stop it."

"I believe it goes too far," Stabenow went on. "I believe that we made a commitment entering this debate that this was a debate about expanding coverage--expanding coverage--for women."

Stabenow hasn't seen the actual language. "It's my understanding from talking to Sen. Nelson yesterday that it would parallel the Stupak language," she said. That means it would likely prevent millions of people receiving government assistance to buy health insurance from purchasing policies that pay for abortions. Nelson has said that he'll filibuster the bill if his amendment--or something like it--don't win the day. We'll be looking at this, and all major health care developments, very closely.

Former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe is challenging his fans and political readers to a literary duel with "our old friend Sarah Palin."

In a new Web video, Plouffe announces a one-day-only attempt for his book on the 2008 campaign to out-sell Palin's "Going Rogue," which, he notes, has sold over a million copies.

"It's selling about like a distortions and mistruths would at a tea party rally," Plouffe says in campaign-style Web video you can watch after the jump.

"We thought it might be fun, a fun little exercise, on one day to see if we can use some of our old organizing techniques and spread the world to see if we might be able to beat her for just one day," Plouffe said. The challenge is for Tuesday at noon.

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As the next round of UN climate change negotiations begin in Copenhagen, a new report describes how 22 Bush-era officials are still influencing the climate debate, many of them as registered lobbyists for industry.

Among the former officials listed in the report from watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington are the following:

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