TPM News

Not too many people oppose efforts to keep drunk drivers off the road. But then, not too many people are known to enemies and friends alike as "Dr. Evil," and revel in their role as the poster boy for deceptive astroturf corporate lobbying.

We're talking, of course, about TPMmuckraker favorite Rick Berman, who has built a lucrative business by creating a string of industry-funded front groups that have fought efforts to fight smoking, drinking, and obesity without revealing their corporate clients.

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Activist Jonathan Tasini (D) announced this morning that he will abandon his bid for the NY Democratic Senate nomination to replace Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who has seen a series of potential challengers come and go. Instead, he will refocus his efforts on the House seat of the considerably more vulnerable Charles Rangel (D) in NY's 15th Congressional District.

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The Louisiana House passed a bill yesterday that will enable places of worship to allow congregants with permits to carry concealed guns, purportedly so they can protect their fellow churchgoers in case of a shooting or other violent act.

State Rep. Henry Burns (R), who introduced the bill, told TPM that it gives "a gift of intervention" to churchgoers, and that "we do live in different times" where even a church is "really no safe haven."

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How did the Alabama teachers' union, an affiliate of the NEA, come to fund a political action committee with the name True Republican PAC whose ads attack a Republican candidate for governor as an evolutionist?

The answer seems to involve a mix of political calculation and personal animosity.

The driving force behind the PAC is Paul Hubbert, the head of Alabama Education Association, the state affiliate of the National Education Association.

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Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) is calling in the big guns.

Vice President Joe Biden has cut a radio ad for Specter -- who's locked in a tight primary battle with Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA). In the minute-long ad, Biden says Specter "is one of the most principled guys I've ever known."

"This guy is a guy with more steel in his backbone than most people have in their whole body."

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Republican Honolulu councilman Charles Djou has a big money advantage over his two Democratic opponents in the HI-01 special election, former Rep. Ed Case and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa -- with more cash on hand than the two Dems combined.

Djou has $363,000, and no debt. Hanabusa is second in cash, with $187,000 on hand and $19,000 in debt. In third place is Case -- the unofficially backed candidate of the national Dems -- with $154,000 on hand and $45,000 in debt.

The GOP is heavily favored to pick this seat up, and the national Democratic Party has already pulled out of the race due to the split Democratic vote -- effectively ceding a district that President Obama carried with 70% of the vote, at least until the Dems can have another chance at it in the normal general election this November.

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Last night, Jon Stewart was confused about former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown's "walk of shame" out of 10 Downing Street, so he asked Daily Show Senior British Person John Oliver whether "crushing the spirit of your vanquished leaders is a conscious choice?" Oliver explained: "We are miserable bastards Jon, it's a matter of national character."

When Stewart pointed out that new Prime Minister David Cameron actually gave an uplifting inauguration speech, Oliver exclaimed that "he was being sarcastic," and "just kicking us while we were down," adding "that's why we voted for him -- his dickish sense of humor."

Oliver also said that the Brits have actual royalty, which is "why we can treat our political leaders like the disposable bureaucrats that they are." He continued: "We don't need to go all 'gay wedding' on our inaugurations like you do."

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In a new ad, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) is playing up how he's closed the gap between with Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) in his state's Democratic Senate primary.

"The race between Sestak and Specter is a dead heat," the ad's narrator says, before touting Sestak's record on civil rights, the environment, and senior citizens' and women's issues.

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