TPM News

Stephen Colbert brandished a broadsword last night and, as lightning flared around him, declared that he was claiming former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann's powers as his own.

"In punditry, as in The Highlander, there can be only one," Colbert shouted. "Keith Olbermann, your audience and your vocabulary are mine!"

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The Supreme Court appears to be dividing 6-3 -- on whether the nine individual Justices are attending tonight's State of the Union address.

As you might recall, last year Justice Samuel Alito got into some controversy when he reflexively mouthed out the words "not true" in response to Obama's criticism of the Citizens United ruling, which overturned a variety of limits on corporate spending in political campaigns.

Several weeks later, Chief Justice John Roberts said he was "very troubled" by the whole environment of the State of the Union: "To the extent the State of the Union has degenerated into a political pep rally, I'm not sure why we are there."

And as it turns out, some of the conservatives justices won't be there this time, either -- a new practice for Alito himself, and a long-standing one for others. But interestingly enough, Roberts is still going.

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Michele Bachmann was the subject of Anderson Cooper's "Keeping Them Honest" segment last night, for her comments last weekend that to America's diversity-conscious first settlers, "it didn't matter the color of their skin, it didn't matter their language, it didn't matter their economic status."

The segment was subtitled "Flunking History," which Cooper explained was because Bachmann's comments "are either a deliberate rewriting of our history, or signs that she has a shaky grasp on our history."

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Rahm Emanuel is fighting an appellate court's decision that booted him from the Chicago mayoral ballot. In a last-ditch appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, Emanuel and his lawyers call yesterday's decision "one of the most far-reaching election law rulings ever to be issued by an Illinois court."

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As I reported Monday, Republicans are torn between acknowledging the need for infrastructure modernization and appeasing the right flank of their party. This has typically been bipartisan territory, but suddenly top Republicans, dragged to the right by the activist wing of their party, must disavow most new spending. So they spin their wheels when asked how to improve transportation infrastructure without new spending. But they're also forced to reject projects they once cheered.

One of the main flanks of the Republican agenda is to reclaim the last unspent stimulus dollars -- many billions of which are pegged to high-speed rail projects.

"If there is one thing that I think all of us here on both sides of the political aisle from all parts of the region agree with, it's that we need to do all we can to promote jobs here in the Richmond area," said then House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, shortly after the stimulus bill passed in 2009.

He was talking about a high-speed rail stimulus project that he claimed would bring scores of thousands jobs to the region.

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Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show last night to discuss the House Republicans' push to pass H.R. 3, which they're calling the "No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act." But those familiar with federal law -- specifically the Hyde Amendment, which has prohibited the Department of Health and Human Services from using taxpayer funds for abortions since 1976, and other laws that prohibit members of the military, Peace Corps, those utilizing Native American health services or federal prisoners from obtaining abortions using federal funds -- might wonder what the fuss is about.

As Schakowsky explained, the law introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and backed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) actually goes further than all of the current restrictions and increases taxes on people with private insurance plans -- if those plans cover abortion.

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Incredulous about Fox News host Megyn Kelly's claim that her network would never compare its opponents to Nazis, Jon Stewart opened his show last night by showing just how often that actually happens. (Hint: It's a lot).

Stewart challenged his staff to pull any clip of a Fox host comparing a political opponent to Nazis within 24 hours of Kelly's claim, confidently saying he would whip up "a delicious linzer tart" to fill the long time while his staff searched. Yet before Stewart even began his recipe, the show rolled a clip of Glenn Beck equating Democrats to Nazis -- a segment that aired only three hours after Kelly's show.

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The leader of the Aryan Nations, a white supremacist group once strong in the Northwest, has condemned the planting of a bomb along the route of a Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane, Wash., and says his group isn't responsible.

Morris Gulett, the leader of the group, said in a six-minute video press release that he condemns any violence that could harm innocent children.

"We absolutely do not condone this type of activity, but emphatically do condemn the use of force and terror," he said. Gulett said he was responding to those who've speculated that the Aryan Nations was responsible for the bomb.

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Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell took a stab at reaching across the aisle this morning, saying he'd like to work with President Obama on what he called "the really serious, seemingly intractable problems" in the country today. His advice to a president who's signaled he's willing to come to the center and make deals with the new Republican-heavy Congress? Become one of us, and bipartisanship should be no problem.

"If the president is willing to do what I and my members would do anyway, we're not going to say no," McConnell told an audience of journalists and political insiders at a breakfast meeting hosted by Politico in Washington today.

Moderator Mike Allen asked McConnell if there are any concessions he'd be willing to grant the White House in the course of negotiating solutions to Social Security and other large-scale topics dividing Washington these days.

"It depends on the issue," McConnell said. "We can't negotiate sitting here this morning."

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