TPM News

Sharron Angle, the Republican nominee for Senate in Nevada against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has very quickly reversed herself on comments she made on a radio show yesterday, in which she slammed the $20 billion escrow account that BP negotiated with the Obama administration to pay damage claims resulting from the Gulf oil spill. Angle's reversal -- she now says her description of the account as a "slush fund" was "incorrect" -- provides a further data point that while bashing the fund may play well with some on the right, it is also politically untouchable with the wider electorate.

Angle released this statement:

Setting the record straight about BP and the Obama Administration

There's been some confusion this morning regarding my position on BP and the oil spill.

Having had some time to think about it, the caller and I shouldn't have used the term "slush fund"; that was incorrect.

My position is that the creation of this fund to compensate victims was an important first step-- BP caused this disaster and they should pay for it. But there are multiple parties at fault here and there should be a thorough investigation. We need to look into the actions, (or inactions) of the Administration and why the regulatory agency in charge of oversight was asleep at the wheel while BP was cutting corners. Every party involved should be held fully accountable.

Angle's rapid walk-back on this mirrors the same path followed by Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who apologized to BP for the creation of the fund. Barton was forced by GOP leadership to retract his statements that same day. Of course, the curious thing here is that Barton's comments happened three weeks ago -- so Angle really should have had enough time to learn from this prior example.

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It's all starting to make sense. In continuing to deny that he assigned his former aide, Brent Furer to be his point man on women's issues after Furer was charged with domestic violence, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) now says it's all a big misunderstanding. Furer's job, it turns out, had nothing to do with women at all.

If, like Vitter, you don't count abortion as a woman's issue, that is.

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The new Rasmussen poll of the Illinois Senate race shows Democratic state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias taking a narrow lead over Republican Rep. Mark Kirk -- or rather, it shows Kirk falling behind Giannoulias, in a race where both candidates are unpopular.

The numbers: Giannoulias 40%, Kirk 39%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4.5% margin of error. In the previous poll from a month ago, Kirk led by 42%-39%. The TPM Poll Average gives Kirk a narrow edges of 41.3%-38.9% in a two-way race, not including third-party candidates that could potentially pick up significant protest votes.

Both candidates have suffered from stories that have seriously hurt them with the public. In Giannoulias's case, it's the failure of his family's bank, and for Kirk it's his long history of making false statements about his military service. In this new poll Giannoulias's favorable rating is at only 43%, with 46% unfavorable -- and Kirk is at an even worse 39%-48%.

We told you yesterday about a 2007 document that shows that the National Marine Fisheries Service drastically underestimated the size of a potential oil spill and its effect on endangered species like sea turtles when they signed off on lease sales for drilling sites in the Gulf. A Fisheries official now tells TPMmuckraker that, once the leak is resolved the agency will revisit the opinion.

The agency is charged with enforcing the Endangered Species Act, and part of its mandate is to consult with other federal agencies on whether a proposal -- in this case, opening more of the Gulf to oil and gas drilling -- will jeopardize the existence of protected species.

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It was only a year ago that Sarah Palin invented out of whole cloth the concept of "death panels" and accused Congress of inserting them into the health care bill. Though they have been at this point thoroughly debunked as a way for Medicare to pay for doctors to talk patients through their options on end-of-life care before they are at the end of their lives, the concept that the government will decide which seniors should live and which should die apparently continues to hold resonance for easily-frightened elderly people, Fox News viewers and Fox News legal contributor and former Pataki appointee Peter Johnson, Jr.. That's the only explanation for Johnson's resurrection of death panels today in order to attack the new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Donald Berwick.

Berwick, the new Republican whipping boy for health care reform, once expressed admiration for the British system because of its ability to provide universal coverage and improve care. Obviously, that means he plans to use his new position to kill off American's senior citizens.

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Sharron Angle, the Republican nominee for Senate in Nevada against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, explained her opposition to abortion even in cases of rape and incest: "Two wrongs don't make a right," and young girls who sought alternatives to abortion "made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade."

As Sam Stein reports, in a radio interview in late June, with conservative talker Alan Stock, Angle explained:

Stock: What do you say then to a young girl, I am going to place it as he said it, when a young girl is raped by her father, let's say, and she is pregnant. How do you explain this to her in terms of wanting her to go through the process of having the baby?

Angle: I think that two wrongs don't make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade. Well one girl in particular moved in with the adoptive parents of her child, and they both were adopted. Both of them grew up, one graduated from high school, the other had parents that loved her and she also graduated from high school. And I'll tell you the little girl who was born from that very poor situation came to me when she was 13 and said 'I know what you did thank you for saving my life.' So it is meaningful to me to err on the side of life.

The TPM Poll Average currently gives Angle a lead of 46.0%-40.8%.

Pennsylvania Senate hopeful Pat Toomey (R) is on the air with his first television ads introducing himself to voters and - surprise! - framing his rival as "really liberal." In the ads Toomey criticizes Rep. Joe Sestak (D) for voting for the $787 billion stimulus, a cap-and-trade system and health care reform.

"Joe Sestak voted for government-run health care," one ad blares. "But he went much further. Sestak voted to permit banning all private health insurance That's really liberal."

The TPM Poll Average of this race has the candidates nearly tied, with Toomey holding a slight 41.9 lead over Sestak's 41.2. Sestak effectively unseated Sen. Arlen Specter by clobbering the Republican-turned-Democrat in the May Democratic primary.

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Sharron Angle, the Republican nominee in Nevada against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has now taken a very politically curious step -- opposing the $20 billion escrow fund that BP negotiated with the Obama administration, calling it a "slush fund."

Greg Sargent reports that Angle appeared on a local radio show, where a caller bashed the escrow fund as "extortion" and a "slush fund." Angle then agreed: "Government shouldn't be doing that to a private company. And I think you named it clearly: It's a slush fund." She further added: "They're actually using this crisis if you will, because they never waste one -- Saul Alinsky's rules for radicals -- they are using this crisis now to get in cap and trade, and every crime and penalty, and slush fund." Click here to listen to the audio.

This puts Angle in the company of Republicans like Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who apologized to BP for the creation of the fund -- and in his case, Barton was forced by the GOP leadership to retract his statements.

The TPM Poll Average gives Angle a lead of 46.0%-40.8%.