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The Interior Department's Minerals Management Service has long been known to have an intensely intimate relationship with the extractive industries it regulates. But when President Obama, and his Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, took office in 2009, they proceeded to make some changes to ethics rules in the wake of a sex and drugs scandal in MMS' Denver office -- and that's about it.

The Times has a look at why the administration failed to order a full overhaul at MMS:

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Senate hopefuls Mark Kirk (R) and Dick Blumenthal (D) will likely be dogged from now until November by accusations that they embellished their military backgrounds. But as galling as their transgressions may be, they're part of a rich, scandalous tradition of American pols exaggerating--or simply lying about--their service records in front of the right crowds, when they think they can get away with it.

Herewith, our favorite examples of politicians getting caught red handed fibbing about their war records.

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President Barack Obama's Memorial Day speech at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Illinois was canceled today because of a violent thunderstorm.

"Excuse me, everybody listen up," Obama said from underneath an umbrella as he briefly took the stage. "We are a little bit concerned about lightning. This may not be safe."

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Of all the bad predictions and downright misinformation we've seen surrounding the Gulf oil spill, this one ranks pretty high: BP actually told the government last year that it was prepared to respond to a blowout flowing at 300,000 barrels per day -- as much as 25 times the rate of the current spill.

That assertion came in an Initial Exploration Plan for the well that ultimately blew out, filed with the Minerals Management Service in 2009. BP says in the document that it "has the capability to respond, to the maximum extent practicable, to a worst-case discharge, or a substantial threat of such a discharge, resulting from the activities proposed in our Exploration Plan."

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A small Wall Street securities firm has teamed up with a lobbyist for the financial services industry to host an all-day event on June 15 -- right in the middle of the conference committee negotiations over the financial reform bill -- that will feature "the KEY House and Senate Conferees and majority and minority Committee staff, as well as leading financial lobbyists covering interchange, banks and major non-banks affected by so-called Wall Street Reform bill," according to an invitation obtained by TPM.

The firm, JNK Securities Corp., declined to comment about the event.

The other firm helping to organize the event, according to the email invitation, is Federal Advisory LLC. The registered agent for Federal Advisory LLC is Tim Rupli, according to Virginia corporation records. Rupli is a former aide to Tom DeLay and now a high-powered Republican lobbyist for the payday lending industry and the community banks trade association, among other clients.

Reached last week, Rupli declined to be interviewed, but suggested that the event may not take place after all. He hung up before elaborating.

While the invitation says the event will be on Capitol Hill, it doesn't not specify the exact venue. Rupli's Capitol Hill townhouse on New Jersey Avenue within easy walking distance of the House office buildings next to the Capitol, has been the frequent venue for fund-raising receptions, ranking as the 10th most popular congressional partying spot of 2008.

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Vice President Joe Biden honored America's fallen soldiers during a Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery today, calling it "the greatest honor in my public life."

Biden gave thanks to the generations of "soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines" who are "the heart and soul, and I would say spine of this nation." Those Americans, Biden said, "have died that we may live."

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With about a year and a half to go before the first Republican caucuses and primaries in 2012, a new set of numbers from Public Policy Polling (D) shows that none of the big names have yet come to dominate the field, with a different candidate leading in each of three states.

"The story in our 2012 Republican polling continues to be that there is no one approaching front runner status," writes PPP president Dean Debnam.

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The new poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (D) of the California Republican gubernatorial primary shows former eBay CEO Meg Whitman way ahead of state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner -- with both of them trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Jerry Brown for the general election.

The numbers: Whitman 53%, Poizner 29%. The survey of likely GOP primary voters has a ±4.5% margin of error. The TPM Poll Average has Whitman ahead of Poizner by 47.4%-28.%.

Jerry Brown, the current state attorney general and also a former governor and three-time president candidate, remains the favorite for the general election, leading Whitman by 44%-38% and leading Poizner by 45%-31%. Each match-up was tested among a separate half-sample of registered voters, with a ±3.6% margin of error each. The TPM Poll Average shows Brown ahead of Whitman by 44.4%-39.8%, and ahead of Poizner by 46.6%-33.5%.

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