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Media Matters has unveiled this new TV ad, attacking Lou Dobbs for promoting Birtherism:

"It's time for 'the most trusted name in news' to live up to its slogan," the announcer says. "Let CNN know, there's nothing legitimate about racially-charged paranoia."

The ad will run on all three of the big cable news networks -- including on CNN, during Dobbs' own show.

Also, the Associated Press reports on how Dobbs' Birtherism has become a big headache for CNN. "He's embarrassed himself and he's embarrassed CNN," said former CNN correspondent Brooks Jackson. "And that's not a good thing for any network that wants to be seen as a reputable, nonpartisan news organization."

Time was that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took the lead among members of the Senate Finance Committee in swatting down the idea of eschewing a government-run health insurance plan in favor of a system of health care co-operatives. Hypothetically, he said, one could construct a co-op plan that mimicked the public option, but such a construct wouldn't win the support of committee Republicans, and a weaker version would be a non-starter.

Then a bipartisan Finance Committee coalition--with an overwhelming preference for a co-op system--took over the process of writing a bill, and since then,Schumer's been relatively silent. But that's opened the door for reform advocate Jay Rockefeller.

"I will be darned if I support or allow to move forward -- to the extent that I can make a noise about it -- something which sounds user-friendly," Rockefeller told Politico. "What I have to worry about is, are co-ops going to be effective taking on these gigantic insurance companies? And from everything I know from people who represent them, the answer is a flat 'no.'"

Last week, Rockefeller asked the GAO to investigate this very question. Rockefeller isn't typically a rebellious sort, andlacks the business-friendly Schumer brand. But he does command a lot of respect on the issue and could make things uncomfortable for the so-called "coalition of the willing," especially if he convinces the committee's few liberals to stand with him.

Now this is odd. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) has again ruled out running for Senate in 2010, which would involve challenging scandal-plagued GOP Sen. David Vitter in the primary -- but he's not giving any enthusiastic endorsements of Vitter, either.

"Well a couple of things, first (Sen. David) Vitter's going to have to make his case with the voters, just like every candidate does," Jindal said, when asked by a reporter about a possible candidacy. "There's been a lot of speculation. Let me answer your question very directly, I'm not running for the senate, I'm running for re-election as governor in 2011, but David's going have to make his case with the voters directly just like any other candidate's going to have to do that."

Now that's a strong vote of confidence.

Remember that Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll that showed how many Southerners -- mainly Southern whites -- don't believe President Obama was born in the United States? Well now check out some early data from an upcoming survey by Public Policy Polling (D) of Virginia, the northernmost part of the Old Confederacy.

Here's what PPP communications director Tom Jensen wrote on Friday: "In a result making me want to bang my head against the table, the first round of calls for our Virginia poll this afternoon founds voters in the state almost evenly split on whether they thought the President was born in the US."

The full result for this question will be released on Wednesday. Jensen added that PPP will be polling North Carolina this week -- the state where they are based -- and will be sure to put in a question about this.

Late Update: Some early numbers of the state's self-identified Republican voters: A 41% plurality say Obama was not born in the United States, to 32% who say he was, and 27% who are not sure.

Michael Ensign, the father of Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), may be finding his business deals threatened after he admitted to giving his son's mistress and her husband $96,000.

Ensign, a partner in a proposed casino in Kansas, may be asked to withdraw from the project if investigators find he violated campaign finance law.

The head of the Kansas Lottery told the Kansas City Star that the lottery will conduct its own ethics investigation into Ensign's involvement in the scandal, in addition to watching for the results of any federal investigations into Sen. Ensign and his parents.

"If it is found that there was wrongdoing, that would have an effect on things," said Ed Van Petten. That effect could include keeping Ensign out of the management of the casino, or asking him to withdraw altogether, he said.

Ensign was chairman of the board of the company that ran Vegas's Mandalay Bay Resort. He reportedly made about $130 million after orchestrating Mandalay's sale to MGM in 2005.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has filed an FBI complaint over the payment.

During the first week of the August congressional recess Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) will kick off a major series of events tomorrow with what the campaign is calling a 'major announcement' tomorrow morning in Folsom, PA.

As first reported by TPMDC, Sestak began raising money for a Senate campaign in May, telling supporters at the time that he intended to challenge Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) in the Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania. Since then he's raised a significant amount of money, toured his entire state, and doubled down on his criticisms of his likely challenger. But he hasn't officially announced his candidacy. With an impressive haul in the second quarter, though--and with polls showing an appetite for a challenger in Pennsylvania--that could change tomorrow.

Sestak will also appear in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Scranton, as well as on The Colbert Report as part of his campaign push this week.

In what will surely be contentious series of affairs, Democrats will meet several times this week to discuss the status of health care reform in the upper chamber, and to try to reach intraparty consensus on key issues. Members will huddle at a regularly scheduled caucus lunch on Tuesday, an impromptu caucus meeting on Wednesday, and at a meeting of the Democratic Policy Committee on Thursday, hoping to find common ground.

Party leaders will face a tough task. The caucus remains divided between those who hope to mimic what the House of Representatives has done so far--to pass robust reform packages in all key committees--and those who want to forge a weakened middle ground. The latter members, led by Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) insist that Democrats can't push a partisan bill, including a public option, past a Republican filibuster.

Americans United for Change has a new ad out attacking executive pay in the health insurance industry -- specifically the pay of one particular CEO, Ed Hanway of Cigna:

"The Republican prescription for the health insurance crisis," the announcer says, "be as rich as Ed -- you'll be happy, too."

Two Sides Taking Health Care Debate Outside Washington The Obama Administration and its opponents will be spending the August recess heavily promoting their sides of the health care debate. "Our job is to help folks understand how this will help them," said David Axelrod. On the other end of the spectrum, Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and John Barrasso (R-WY) will be going on the road with their "Senate Doctors Show," warning against the Democratic plan.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will deliver remarks at 11:05 a.m. ET, on the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. At 12:30 p.m. ET, he will meet with Shaykh Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah, Amir of Kuwait, and the two of them will be joined by Vice President Biden for lunch at 12:45 p.m. Et. Obama will meet with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) at 3:30 p.m. ET.

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