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Liz Cheney made something of a splash in her debut as a Fox News panelist yesterday. After being introduced on Fox News Sunday by Chris Wallace as a "former State Department official, daughter of the former vice president, and first-time panelist," Cheney had an, um, interesting take on President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize.

"The president himself understands he didn't earn this prize," Cheney said. "And I think, therefore, the notion that, as the White House has said, he would go to Oslo to accept the prize would just sort of add to the farce."

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Ever since the boat accident in late August in which Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) and two staffers were seriously injured, the congressman has denied that he had been drinking heavily and has maintained that the driver, who was charged with felonies last week, was not impaired either.

Now, a musician who says he saw Rehberg in Lakeside, MT, shortly before the accident, has come forward to say that Rehberg was not drunk.

Terry Brick, a member of the Toby Stone Duo, playing the night of the crash, said in a letter to the Missoulian Friday that Rehberg was not exhibiting the signs of inebriation:

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Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) defended his attack ads against Republican rival Chris Christie, which charge that Christie "threw his weight around" to get out of trouble from traffic violations when he was a U.S. Attorney -- which critics have said is an attack on Christie's physical weight.

In an interview with the editorial board at the Press of Atlantic City:

"People who flash their credentials or use their offices to accomplish something, people say 'people threw their weight around,'" Corzine said.

Asked directly if he thought Christie was fat, Corzine touched his bare head, smiled and said, "Am I bald?"

In a new fundraising e-mail, Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds acknowledges that he's now widely seen as the underdog in the Virginia gubernatorial race:

I've been counted out my whole life. But that's only inspired me to work harder, dream bigger, and prove to all the cynics out there that when we join together, there's nothing we can't accomplish.

Four months ago, we beat the odds and won the primary against better funded opponents. And just three weeks from now, we're going to win again. Because despite all the chatter, you and I know the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day.


Check out the full e-mail, after the jump.

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We've been keeping a close eye today on Republicans using the new AHIP report to talk about the health care bill leading to rising insurance costs.

Spokesman Kurt Bardella of Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-CA) office told TPMDC that Republicans are sure to use the report as justification for opposing the plan. But he cautioned the minority party must "strike the right balance" between the report showing premiums would rise and "trying to avoid the perception they are doing the insurance industry's bidding."

"Any Republican that uses the report should double-check to see how much money they've received from the industry as that'll be a very easy rebuttal for Dems to hit back," Bardella said.

He views the report as "ample ammunition" for critics of the health care bill and said that it can be used by Republicans as I-told-you-so proof once a bill passes if premiums do rise over the next decade.

"Democrats won't be able to feign surprise or cast it as an unintended consequence - they've been warned and if their health care reform plan - which, right or wrong, seeks to minimize private insurers, results in a defacto tax increase for middle-class Americans - it could prove to be politically devastating," Bardella said.

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In his speech to the Human Rights Campaign Saturday night, President Obama said he will stand by his nominees if they are attacked, presumably referring to two openly gay nominees that have been drawing fire from the right wing.

"Nobody in America should be fired because they're gay, despite doing a great job and meeting their responsibilities. It's not fair. It's not right. We're going to put a stop to it," Obama said. "And it's for this reason that if any of my nominees are attacked, not for what they believe but for who they are, I will not waver in my support, because I will not waver in my commitment to ending discrimination in all its forms."

He did not refer to the nominees by name.

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It's starting to look more and more like Texas governor Rick Perry orchestrated an effort to thwart a state probe into an arson investigation that may have led to the execution of an innocent man.

Sam Bassett -- the former chair of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, who Perry declined to reappoint last month -- is now saying that Perry's aides tried to pressure him over the direction of the inquiry his panel was conducting into the steps that led to the 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham for arson. Perry, as governor, signed off on the execution, despite clear evidence that the investigation was flawed.

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Appearing this morning on MSNBC, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) strongly rejected any comparison between his "Die quickly" attack on Republicans and Rep. Joe Wilson's (R-SC) "You lie!" interruption of President Obama.

"Comparing what Joe Wilson did to what I did -- it's not the same," said Grayson. "What I did is like a Bob Dylan protest song. What Joe Wilson did is like a belch."

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A foundation closely linked to Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) has collected over $800,000 in donations, much of it from industry sources with stakes in legislation moving through Buyer's committees, but has given out just $10,500 in six years and spent a whopping $258,136 in operating expenses, the Lafayette Journal & Courier reported Sunday.

Buyer's daughter is the president of the Frontier Foundation, which was set up purportedly to give scholarships to Indiana students, Buyer himself was described as "honorary chairman" in a 2004 solicitation letter, and the organization in June listed Buyer's district office as its office.

Despite all of that, Buyer's office told the newspaper, "It's not Congressman Buyer's foundation," and declined an interview request.

The Journal & Courier reports:

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an interview with NBC this weekend in Switzerland (and broadcast on Today this morning) that President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize won't influence "some of these tough decisions" he has to make on the war in Afghanistan.

Clinton said the prize was a recognition of Obama's "attitude toward America's role in the world, his willingness to challenge everyone to kind of step up and take responsibility" and that it "really restores an image and an appreciation of our country."

On Afghanistan, Clinton made an interesting comment -- in response to a question from NBC's Ann Curry -- implying that if the U.S. doesn't send more troops to Afghanistan, it might be immoral to keep any troops there at all.

"If the President decides not to send more troops to Afghanistan, morally, can he still keep 68,000 U.S. troops there?"

Gen. Jack Keane (Ret.) made a similar point on CNN yesterday, saying that if Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal doesn't have enough troops, "that gets very difficult in terms of a moral dilemma, asking the troops to do something that you believe is going to fail."

Will be interesting to see how the proposed troop increase gets cast in "moral" terms in the coming days.

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