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He's ba-a-ck. After shunning the national media spotlight for a couple weeks, Kentucky Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul made his triumphant return to national TV yesterday. And right away, he was back to talking about the 1964 Civil Rights Act (he says would have voted for it but claims he was "vilified" by the liberal press for having the "audacity" to bring up his issues with the law) and BP ("sometimes people are well-intentioned and bad things happen").

There were some differences, however. Paul's last national media tour -- which came right after his overwhelming victory in the May 18 primary -- took him to NPR, the Rachel Maddow Show and (almost) Meet The Press. This time, Paul chose friendlier and lower-rated turf, spending about 10 minutes with Fox News' Neil Cavuto on his Fox Business Channel show.

Check out the video, and our annotated guide to the good parts, below.

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In the latest in a continuing string of last-minute stunts in the South Carolina gubernatorial race, lobbyist Larry Marchant has taken a lie detector test about his claim of a one-night stand with front-runner Nikki Haley back in 2008.

The results of the test, which was sponsored by the local FOX affiliate? Inconclusive.

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It's one of the most hotly contested primaries this election cycle with seven Republicans vying to take on Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello in Virginia's fifth Congressional district. The GOP would need to oust Perriello, a vulnerable freshman, if they want to recapture the House this fall, and today, we'll find out who will carry the Republican mantle into the November election.

State Sen. Robert Hurt, the establishment-favored candidate, is poised to win the primary today, having bested tea partiers and conservative favorites who attracted national attention this year but fizzled out. This primary battle was in many ways a test of the tea party's mettle in this south central Virginia district that was held by a Republican for many years until Perriello won in an Obama wave in 2008. And the general election will be a microcosm of many of the elements at play in national politics today - a Republican who doesn't fit the exact conservative mold and a Democrat the GOP will try to paint as a Nancy Pelosi yes man out of step with the district.

Republicans will try to put Perriello on the defensive over his vote for health care reform, the stimulus plan and a cap and trade climate bill to capitalize on general discomfort with fiscal issues in Washington. Meanwhile, if Hurt wins, the Democrats will slam him on the same topic that Republicans used to target him in the primary - a 2004 vote for a $1.4 billion tax increase under then-Gov. Mark Warner (D). The Democrats suggest Hurt's tax record is fair game and that it puts his credibility in question. They'll also use the critiques from his GOP rivals to bolster their own argument.

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Carly Fiorina has won the Republican nomination for the Senate race to challenge Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) this fall. Fiorina, the former Hewlett Packard executive, bested two opponents in one of the most hotly contested primaries this cycle.

The Associated Press and Fox News have called Fiorina as the winner, with 12 percent of precincts reporting. Fiorina had 58% while former Rep. Tom Campbell had 23% and tea party and conservative favorite Chuck DeVore had 17%. Like Meg Whitman, the former eBay chief executive who won the Republican nomination for governor tonight, Fiorina's only political experience has been serving as an adviser to Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential bid.

The primary was marked by demon sheep and battles over immigration policy. Fiorina was boosted in recent weeks after former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin jumped in with an endorsement.

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A new poll from Rasmussen confirms recent polling showing that former Bush administration official Rob Portman (R) is running neck-and-neck with Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D). The new Rasmussen poll, taken June 3 among 500 likely voters, shows the two men locked in a dead heat, 43-43. The margin of error is 4.5%.

Other recent polls have shown a similar result. A May 20 University Of Cincinnati poll showed Fisher head by just one point, 47-46, with a margin of error of 3.8%.

The TPM Poll Average also shows the race is tied up. Fisher leads the average by a margin of 44.1-42.0.

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Witness the mainstreaming of Orly Taitz?

The longtime Birther agitator and dentist who is now running for the GOP secretary of state nomination in California was a "special guest" of the Republican Jewish Coalition at the group's "annual summer bash" at the Beverly Hills Hilton Sunday. Also in attendance: GOP heavyweights Karl Rove, former Senator Norm Coleman, and California Senate candidates Chuck DeVore and Carly Fiorina.

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June 7, 2010: White House reporter and Hearst columnist Helen Thomas retires after covering the White House since 1960. Thomas had been at the center of a media firestorm after saying that the Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home. Poland. Germany. And America and everywhere else." The 89-year old Thomas retired after 50 years in the White House, during which she covered ten Presidents.

Above, President Gerald Ford holds a press conference with Thomas and others on September 30, 1976. White House Chief of Staff Dick Cheney looks on from the left.

Wikimedia Commons: Library Of Congress




August 23 1962: President John F. Kennedy addresses the AMVETS convention in New York City by telephone, from the Oval Office. Thomas, third from the right, is also present.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum




August 4, 2006: President George W. Bush wishes Thomas a happy 86th birthday.

Wikimedia Commons: White House photo by Eric Draper




August 4, 2009: President Obama brings Thomas cupcakes to celebrate her 89th birthday.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




August 4, 1995: President Bill Clinton helps Thomas celebrate her 75th birthday.

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December 3, 2007: Caroline Kennedy with Thomas at the AARP The Magazine's 2008 Inspire Awards held at the New York Public Library.

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May 28, 2009: Actress Mary Tyler Moore, who played a reporter on TV, meets Thomas at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

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November 12, 2008: White House Press Secretary Dana Perino welcomes Helen Thomas back to the White House after an illness.

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July 11, 2007: Thomas takes her seat in the front row of the newly remodeled Brady Press Briefing Room.

Newscom/Sipa




October 25, 2006: Thomas waits for President George W. Bush to hold a news conference in the East Room of the White House.

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November 12, 2008: Thomas asks a question at a press briefing.

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November 14, 2008.

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March 24, 2009: Thomas, prior to President Obama's second primetime news conference.

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February 9, 2009: Thomas asks Obama a question during his first press conference as President in the East Room of the White House.

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July 11, 2007.

Newscom/Sipa

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is now walking back his statements from earlier this morning, which cast serious doubt on the prospects of the Senate addressing climate change.

"To the senator's knowledge, no decisions have been made yet on the floor strategy for legislation addressing the nation's urgent energy challenges, nor is it his decision to make," says Schumer's spokesman Brian Fallon. "Senator Schumer speculated on one procedural option, but make no mistake: he believes climate change legislation is vital to our nation's energy security and looks forward to voting for it. He is working with his colleagues to get the strongest, most comprehensive bill possible and looks forward to discussions with the rest of the leadership later this week on how to best move forward."

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South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has released the results of a polygraph that he says prove he did not push the story of an affair between Larry Marchant, his former campaign consultant, and Nikki Haley, Bauer's opponent in the GOP gubernatorial primary.

Haley had publicly accused Bauer of pushing the story of an affair, which she denies. Check out the results below.

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As a tribute to White House reporter Helen Thomas, who resigned today after making controversial remarks about Israel, Comedy Central rounded up some of the best Thomas moments from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

See Thomas smack down John Oliver, stalk Stephen Colbert, and somehow morph into Brad Pitt over the course of the Bush Administration...

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Covering The President -- Helen Thomas And The White House]

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