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Lawyers for Michael Scanlon -- one of the central figures in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal set to be sentenced on Friday -- say their client deserves less than the two years in jail the federal government requested since he "believed he was literally risking his life" by cooperating with the feds.

Scanlon's attorneys throw in everything but the kitchen sink while pointing out reasons why Scanlon shouldn't serve a full two years. One of them: an actor's portray of him in the recent flick "Casino Jack" starring Kevin Spacey has already soiled his reputation.

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Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), a potential presidential candidate, is joining the list of Republicans who are blasting the Obama administration's handling of the situation in Egypt.

CNN's John King caught up with Gingrich at the Reagan Centennial in Simi Valley, California -- as King noted, he can't really get a regular sit-down interview, because Gingrich and other possible candidates are Fox News contributors.

"Look, I think the fact that they appointed a very able diplomat, Frank Wisner, and within two days, were publicly contradicting him, is, you know, it's so amateurish," said Gingrich, referring to the administration having backed away from its envoy saying that Mubarak should stay in power while political reforms are carried out.

"I was with John Bolton last night, he said it's inconceivable that they would be this clumsy and this out of sync with -- I mean, just with themselves, forget the Arab world. They can't even get the White House and their special envoy to be on the same page."

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Add Georgia and Tennessee to the list of Republican leaning states that President Obama could win if Sarah Palin emerges as the GOP presidential nominee.

Two recent polls have found Obama leading Palin in hypothetical 2012 match-ups in those states, both of which went for John McCain in the 2008 election. Vanderbilt's Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions released a poll this week showing Obama ahead of Palin 42% to 37% in Tennessee, a state Obama lost by 15 points in the last election. And in Georgia, an Insight poll found Obama with a four point lead over Palin, 47% to 43%.

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If you're a reader of World Net Daily, a fan of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) or a regular reader of anti-Muslim columnist Frank Gaffney, you know all about the controversies surrounding the attendance of gay Republicans and Muslim conservatives at the Conservative Political Action Conference later this week.

But anti-gay and anti-Muslim CPAC attendees, take heart! There are still plenty of scheduled non-official CPAC events for the Islamo- and homophobic conservatives in your family.

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Without a whimper, Democrats have allowed Republicans to build the reality that, in the current economic environment, government spending costs jobs, while austerity creates jobs. While Republicans tout a "cut and grow" Congress, most Democrats are running away from the idea that spending can do any good at all.

Not all of them though. In a "Dear Colleague" letter, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) is trying to build opposition among his colleagues to the Republican Study Committee's call for dramatic spending cuts on the grounds that they will lead to major job losses.

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Progressive groups are again targeting Republicans in competitive districts for voting to repeal health care reform while accepting federally financed insurance.

Americans United for Change, Daily Kos, and Blue America have aligned to run radio ads in the districts of Reps. Charlie Bass (R-NH), Paul Ryan (R-WI), Sandy Adams (R-FL), and Leonard Lance (R-NJ).

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Egypt's extensive military, lobbying and public relations connections in Washington have been under the media microscope since pro-democracy protests have undermined the Mubarak regime, but one contract in particular, involving a well-placed Mubarak supporter and a major DC public relations firm, hasn't received much attention.

Qorvis Communications, a powerful player in the DC media world, had a two-year contract with Egyptian steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz from 2007 to 2008. Egyptian protesters have torched the Cairo headquarters of Ezz's multinational steel company three times in the last month, displaying a particular hostility for Ezz and the politically powered wealth he represents, the New York Times reported Monday.

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Pro-choice Democrats are raring for an abortion fight this week -- and they intend to start one. After a trio of ultra-conservative abortion bills were filed in the weeks since the Republicans took over earlier this year, returning House Democrats and several of their Senate colleagues will roll out a multi-tiered attack on the GOP's abortion plans, simultaneously painting the bills as extreme, hypocritical and off the all-important economic message.

Sources familiar with the rollout in the House tell TPM the rhetorical attacks have been coordinated with national pro-choice groups like NARAL Pro-choice America, the National Abortion Federation and Planned Parenthood.

Though the effort on the Senate is less coordinated, a number of Senators are planning to join the fight against the House abortion bills in anticipation of them making it out of the Republican House majority.

Democratic campaign types say Republicans may have boxed themselves in with the bills, which have led to an embarrassing walkback on "forcible rape" and go farther than critics say any anti-abortion legislation has in the past. Democrats hope that publicizing the bills and forcing the Republicans to talk about them could alienate the new House majority from some of its independent female supporters.

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Federal Judicial Vacancies Reaching Crisis Point The Washington Post reports: "Since Obama took office, federal judicial vacancies have risen steadily as dozens of judges have left without being replaced by the president's nominees. Experts blame Republican delaying tactics, slow White House nominations and a dysfunctional Senate confirmation system. Six judges have retired in the past six weeks alone."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive his daily briefing at 10:30 a.m. ET. He will meet at 2:30 p.m. ET with the National Policy Alliance. At 4:30 p.m. ET, he and Vice President Biden will meet with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

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The Department of Defense's agency in charge of advanced research and design is looking for new designers to work on the next generation of military vehicles. But the DoD is not directly recruiting from MIT, Carnegie Mellon or the nations' other top computer science and engineering schools. Instead they're looking to you, America, to help with the next generation of military design.

Last week, The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced a competition to help design an experimental combat-support vehicle. DARPA is looking for a design for a four-wheeled vehicle that can either transport four passengers or three passengers laying-down for evacuations.

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