TPM News

In case you needed a reminder of just how shameless congressional Republicans can be...

The GOP members of the House Education and Labor committee, led by Rep. John Kline, last week put out a press release that slammed the "enforcement failures" of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, suggesting that the agency's failure to increase oversight of the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia had helped lead to the deadly explosion that killed 29 miners earlier this month. The release, which did not mention the mine's owner, Massey Energy, asked: "Why didn't federal officials enforce the law to the fullest extent?"

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Sen. Russ Feingold's (D-WI) campaign is patting itself on the back today after last week's news that former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) won't run against the incumbent Democrat.

Thompson had been expected to run for months, and polls showed he would have made it tough for Feingold to win a fourth term. Without him in the fight, however, it looks like smooth sailing ahead (so far) for the Feingold team.

Feingold's campaign is taking credit for keeping Thompson on the fence for so long -- and for pushing him out of the race all together.

"[W]ith your help, the strength of our campaign forced Tommy Thompson out of the U.S. Senate race," Feingold Sr. Strategist John Kraus wrote in an email to supporters today. "There can be no doubt that he saw what he would be up against and decided not to get in the ring because he saw a fight he could not win."

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Sen. Orrin Hatch seemed to imply on Fox News today that the administration may have pushed for a civil suit against Goldman Sachs to be filed at a time that benefited Democrats' financial reform push, saying that "the timing is very suspect."

"This whole Goldman Sachs thing, isn't that a little odd that all of a sudden, right at the height of this legislative period, we suddenly have the SEC filing suit against Goldman Sachs?" Hatch asked.

"I think the timing is very suspect," he said.

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You debate an odd bill, you hear some odd testimony. But this...

The Georgia House Judiciary Committee took up a bill last week that would "prohibit requiring a person to be implanted with a microchip," and would make violating the ban a misdemeanor. According to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, one exchange from the hearing could have been ripped right from Dr. Strangelove.

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is backing away from his support for Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL), saying that he will not continue to support Crist's Senate bid if Crist were to leave the GOP and run as an independent.

The Hill asked McCain if he would still support Crist as an independent. "No," McCain replied. Pressed further, McCain only added: "I support Republicans."

McCain endorsed Crist last year, when Crist first got into the race and seemed to be unbeatable. Crist previously endorsed McCain for McCain in the run-up to the 2008 Florida primary, helping to deliver that big victory to McCain.a

With signs mounting that Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) could be about to bolt the Republican Party and run for Senate as an independent, the GOP is in a delicate position of having to figure out just how and when to cut him off -- with some politicians getting in early on the act.

National Republican groups have remained mostly mum on how they are walking this tightrope, but it's clear they are starting to react to Crist's performance in the Republican primary -- and his likely exit from it. Perhaps the single biggest development was yesterday, when the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which originally endorsed Crist for the Republican nomination last year, circulated a private e-mail asking recipients to tell Crist to drop out -- effectively an un-endorsement of his candidacy.

"We believe there is zero chance Governor Crist continues running in the Republican primary," wrote NRSC executive director Rob Jesmer. "It [is] our view that if Governor Crist believes he cannot win a primary then the proper course of action is he drop out of the race and wait for another day."

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A conservative legal group that previously has targeted Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) now is going after another Democrat -- Eric Massa.

The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) yesterday filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, charging that payments from the former New York congressman's campaign -- one to a former top aide, and another for a car -- broke campaign laws.

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Reporters asked House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer during his weekly briefing today for a reaction to the news about Goldman Sachs' profits posted today. Hoyer (D-MD) said he could understand why people would have two "somewhat contradictory reactions" to the news.

He said on one hand, it shows that the efforts the last Congress and the Bush administration undertook to bailout the nation's banks "had some success in stabilizing the marketplace," and noted that Goldman has repaid taxpayers. But on the other hand, "one could have anger that an organization that got such very significant help" posts the profit "so shortly after it was in distress."

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Two new surveys show a toss-up result in the special election for the House seat in Pennsylvania formerly held by the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha, with a possible edge to the Republicans.

In a new survey from Public Policy Polling (D): Republican businessman Tim Burns 44%, Democratic nominee and former Murtha staffer Mark Critz 41%. Two key numbers form the internals are that President Obama's approval is only 33% in the district, with 57% disapproval, and likely voters also oppose the new health care reform law by a margin of 59%-28%. The Democrat Critz recently ran an ad declaring his own opposition to the health care bill.

"It's going to be somewhat amazing if Mark Critz wins this race given the way voters in his district feel about Barack Obama," writes PPP president Dean Debnam. "His low ratings are something a long time incumbent like Murtha might have been able to weather, but you wouldn't expect Democrats to win an open seat anywhere that gives Obama an approval rating under 40%. Still it remains a toss up with a month to go before the election."

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