TPM News

A new Los Angeles Times poll finds a tie in the California Republican Senate primary, with former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and state Rep. Chuck DeVore at 27% each, for the right to go up against Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.

A whopping 40% of Republican primary voters were undecided, plus 4% who refused to answer and 2% who said they preferred another candidate. The take-away from this poll is that both candidates have a long way to go in building up their respective name identifications.

Expect both candidates to tout the big-name conservatives who are supporting them. DeVore is running an antiestablishment campaign, and has the endorsement of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). Fiorina has the backing of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) -- for whom Fiorina had been a campaign surrogate during the 2008 presidential election - as well as the conservative hero Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK). (The NRSC itself is not backing Fiorina, but the endorsement of the top leaders in the caucus is a pretty strong statement.)

Did American University professor James Thurber ever sign on to act as an independent ethics adviser for astroturf lobbyist Jack Bonner, in the wake of the scandal over those forged letters to lawmakers on climate change? The two principals can't seem to agree.

Thurber has now backed out of the gig, after an ad he ran in Roll Call praising Bonner raised questions about how independent he could truly be. But how firm was the arrangement in the first place?

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Westboro Baptist Church, the fringe-of-the-fringe anti-gay group famous for protesting at military funerals and claiming that God is punishing the country for its tolerance of homosexuality, was spotted this morning protesting outside Sidwell Friends, the school attended by Sasha and Malia Obama.

Protesters were carrying signs with anti-gay, anti-abortion and anti-Obama slogans, slowing down traffic all along Wisconsin Avenue this morning.

One member, Megan Phelps-Roper, posted a picture on Twitter of the protest.

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The CIA is denying an ABC News report that the agency has refused to brief Congress on any knowledge it has about Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army major suspected in the shootings at Fort Hood last week.

"This is a law enforcement investigation, in which other agencies -- not the CIA -- have the lead. Any suggestion that the CIA refused to brief Congress is flat wrong," CIA spokesman George Little tells TPMmuckraker in a statement.

ABC's Richard Esposito, Matthew Cole, and Brian Ross quoted an anonymous senior lawmaker as saying "the CIA had, so far, refused to brief the intelligence committees on what, if any, knowledge they had about Hasan's efforts."

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Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin accused Democratic leaders of trying to "ram" the health care bill through Congress over the weekend and said voters should "look closely" because death panels remain in the legislation.

Palin took to Facebook a few hours after the late-night vote to tell her nearly 1 million supporters the bill was "disastrous" for the economy but they should "hold on to hope."

"We've got to hold on to hope, and we've got to fight hard because Congressional action tonight just put America on a path toward an unrecognizable country," Palin wrote. "The same government leaders that got us into the mortgage business and the car business are now getting us into the health care business."

Palin, who used her Facebook feed to further the phony death panel meme earlier this year, brought it up again:

We had been told there were no "death panels" in the bill either. But look closely at the provision mandating bureaucratic panels that will be calling the shots regarding who will receive government health care.

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Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) had some good times and some bad times at the Christian home on C Street that he's lived in since 1995. But now, reports the Las Vegas Sun, he's moved out.

According to the paper, Ensign was not pushed out, but rather left on his own, out of a desire to spare the house's residents any further unwanted publicity. The New York Times had reported late last month that, according two of the senator's friends, he was making plans to move out.

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Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) spoke to the Iowa Republican Party last night, and thanked God for his blessings in life.

"Thank you, Lord, for my red-hot, smokin' wife," said Pawlenty -- a quote from the movie Talladega Nights, a Will Ferrell comedy about an idiotic NASCAR driver.

"I think she appreciates that line. I talked to her about it and she's OK with it," Pawlenty later told a reporter. "She knows it's in fun. I mean it sincerely, I think she is hot."

Late Update: Here's the video:

"Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated," Fort Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein told the Miami Herald Sunday in a brief interview.

Rothstein, who has been accused of orchestrating a fraud that cost investors as much as hundreds of millions of dollars, spoke to the newspaper from an undisclosed location in south Florida, his first public comments since returning from Morocco last week.

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