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We know conservative politicians in safe districts are happy to align themselves with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. In fact, they fawn over him. But for vulnerable pols, or hopefuls in battleground states and districts, it's a different story.

Take Washington state's Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna, who aspires to be governor.

Washington Dems tried to mark McKenna with Walker's taint, in an ad in The Olympian. "If you like what Governor Scott Walker is doing in Wisconsin... you will love Rob McKenna as Washington State's Governor."

McKenna wants no part of that association -- even though he's publicly taken position's similar to Walker's in the recent past.

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As TPM reported in December, the group behind Kentucky's Creation Museum is looking to expand into the theme park business. But the company's president is now in some hot water over what his critics are calling "ungodly and mean-spirited remarks."

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, has now been banned from a homeschooling convention in Cincinnati.

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Gov. Scott Walker's (R-WI) staff says that no one on the staff ever read an e-mail sent to them in February by a deputy prosecutor in Johnson County, Ind., which encouraged the Walker administration to stage a "false flag" assault or assassination attempt on Walker in order to discredit unions in the Wisconsin political battle over Walker's anti-public employee union legislation.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said the Republican governor's staff were surprised when an investigative reporter pointed it out to him.

...

Walker's office has received tens of thousands of emails since he unveiled and passed his plan to sharply curtail collective bargaining by public employee unions and that has made it difficult to go through them all, aides have said.


"If you could employ an associate who pretends to be sympathetic to the unions' cause to physically attack you (or even use a firearm against you), you could discredit the unions," said the e-mail from Carlos Lam, which was discovered by Wisconsin Watch, a project of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Lam, contacted by Wisconsin Watchdog on Thursday, initially denied sending the e-mail, claiming that his e-mail account had been hacked -- but admitted later in the day that he did send it, and resigned his job.

Explaining food market speculation is as easy as taking cookies from a baby.

Last night, Stephen Colbert argued that there was nothing wrong with speculating on food markets because it's just like, "playing lotto with someone else's lunch money." And to show what he meant, he brought out a little boy and gambled with him for a stack of cookies.

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Professor William Cronon, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is now in a serious tangle with none other than the state Republican Party, in yet another battle over Scott Walker's new anti-public employee union law. After Cronon posted a piece on out-of-state think tanks and interest groups that would spur the law, the GOP has responded with an open-records request on Cronon's own state account e-mails.

On March 15, Cronon posted a blog entry entitled, "Who's Really Behind Recent Republican Legislation in Wisconsin and Elsewhere? (Hint: It Didn't Start Here)", seeking to focus attention on out of state conservative groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, and the infamous phone call that Walker had a month ago with blogger Ian Murphy, who posed as Republican financier David Koch.

"I don't want this to become an endless professorial lecture on the general outlines of American conservatism today, so let me turn to the question at hand: who's really behind recent Republican legislation in Wisconsin and elsewhere?" Cronon wrote. "I'm professionally interested in this question as a historian, and since I can't bring myself to believe that the Koch brothers single-handedly masterminded all this, I've been trying to discover the deeper networks from which this legislation emerged."

Then on March 17, as Cronon announced in a blog post Thursday, the state Republicans have filed an open-records request -- seeking to read his e-mails from his state university account.

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In the next several days, the state-level fight between Democrats and Republicans over unions will go federal. House Republicans want to re-establish old rules which say that when aviation or rail workers don't vote in unionization elections, they're treated as having voted against unionization. And now on of the nation's largest airlines is getting involved in the fight.

The push is reflected in language in the House's FAA re-authorization bill. In an earlier stage of the legislative fight, Democrats, joined by a few Republicans, nearly succeeded in getting the provision stripped. Now, sources say, a similar fight is likely to play out on the House floor, and anti-union employees at Delta Airlines are preparing to fly to Washington to join the fight.

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For a handy explainer, see Newt's many flips on Libya issue by issue.

Newt Gingrich's explanation of his shifting Libya position is growing even more complicated and contradictory, even as the former speaker slams President Obama for supposedly flip-flopping himself between inaction and overreaction.

"There is now total confusion," Gingrich told South Carolina Republicans Thursday, according to the AP, describing the no-fly zone as an "open-ended commitment that is a nightmare."

In an interview later Thursday with FOX News' Greta Van Susteren, the same outlet where he called for an immediate no-fly zone earlier this month, Newt tripled down on his elaborate explanation as to how he went from demanding immediate military action to protect Libyan civilians to berating Obama for entering an unnecessary humanitarian war.

According to Newt, Obama committed an unforgivable error by demanding Qaddafi step down on March 3. Before that, he claims, he could have gotten away with a quieter non-military approach to removing him from power.

"If we had a choice, if President Obama had not come out and said Qaddafi has to go," he told Greta. "I would have preferred the Reagan-Eisenhower model of using the CIA, using our allies, having Moroccan, Egyptian, Jordanian, Iraqi forces helping the people who are going to overthrow Qaddafi."

But Gingrich's already tenuous claim that March 3 was a magic bright line that swung him wildly from anti- to pro-war appears to be contradicted by his own prior statements. On February 22, for example, Newt explicitly chided Obama for not taking a more forceful public stance against Qaddafi, complaining of a "conspiracy of silence."

"I wish the administration -- the Obama administration was as enthusiastic about democracy in Libya and in Iran and in other countries as it was in Egypt, which was our ally," he told FOX News at the time. "Qaddafi's been our enemy for years. This is an opportunity to replace that dictatorship, and I think the United States ought to be firmly on the side of the Libyan people in replacing this administration."

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What happened to the cool, new governors voters elected last year?

That's the question Jon Stewart sought to answer last night on The Daily Show, noting how many fresh GOP governors have fallen from favor with their constituents as they've pushed for broad, controversial changes in the first few months in office. As TPM reported this week, polls have shown GOP governors in three Midwestern states -- John Kasich (R-OH), Scott Walker (R-WI), and Rick Snyder (R-MI) -- losing in hypothetical do-over elections.

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With the 2012 presidential elections somehow already on the horizon, speculation as to Republicans rising up to challenge President Obama continues to crest, and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is topping the list of potential candidates. But while some on the right consider her an "intellectual" and a potential danger to President Obama's incumbency, Bill O'Reilly is skeptical of her experience and appeal.

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