TPM News

The White House adds a new meeting to President Obama's schedule: former Vice President Al Gore.

The Oval Office huddle takes place as global climate talks begin in Copenhagen.

The White House says the private, 4:40 p.m. sit-down is "in advance of his Wednesday meeting with business and environmental leaders" about Copenhagen

Gore will attend, and Obama will go at the end of the conference.

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The new survey of Delaware by Public Policy Polling (D) finds the Democrats favored to pick up the state's open House seat, with former Lt. Gov. John Carney leading the Republicans candidates by wide margins.

Carney, who narrowly lost the 2008 Democratic primary for governor, leads former state Sen. Charlie Copeland by 44%-32%. Carney also leads businessman Fred Cullis by 47%-24%.

The seat has opened up due to incumbent Republican Mike Castle opting to run for Senate in 2010, seeking Vice President Joe Biden's former Senate seat. While Castle is a strong recruit for the Republicans on the Senate side, their gain could be the House GOP's loss.

"The Delaware House seat is a rare strong pick up opportunity for Democrats in what's shaping up as a Republican year," said PPP president Dean Debnam, in the polling memo. "The lack of a strong Republican bench in the state is going to make it hard to hold onto the seat Mike Castle has held for the last 18 years."

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was one of the keynote speakers this weekend at a dinner for the Gridiron Club, an exclusive organization for D.C. journalists. Palin, alongside her co-speaker Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), joked about her book, the media and life on the McCain campaign.

"It's good to be here though, really, in front of this audience of leading journalists and intellectuals... or as I like to call it, a death panel," she said.

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President Obama on Thursday will talk about his decision to send 30,000 more troops to fight the war in Afghanistan when accepting his Nobel Peace Prize.

A White House aide gave TPMDC a little preview of Obama's speech in Oslo when he accepts the award the Nobel committee surprised the world with when granting it to the new president in October.

"The president will talk about what it means to receive a Nobel Peace Prize in the wake of his Afghanistan decision," the aide said. "He will also focus on ways in which the international community can more effectively prevent needless conflict and promote peace across the globe."

The speech comes in the week following Obama's final decision of sending the surge of troops to Afghanistan, and as global climate negotiations kick off in Copenhagen.

What's still to be determined is what Obama will do with the $1.4 million in prize money. As we have reported, Obama will give it to more than one charity but we don't know much beyond that - yet.

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Sen. John Ensign's (R-NV) former chief of staff, Mike Slanker, has reportedly been subpoenaed by the Senate Ethics Committee in connection with a probe into Ensign's affair and subsequent severance payments.

Slanker has been a consultant to Connecticut senatorial candidate Linda McMahon's campaign. A spokesman for the campaign confirmed to the Hartford Courant that Slanker received the subpoena.

As we reported last week, the Senate Ethics Committee has begun to send out subpoenas to key players in the scandal -- a sign that the probe is heating up.

Slanker had worked on Ensign's campaign and was the political director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee when Ensign was its chair.

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On a conference call with reporters just now, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) talked about why he is endorsing Rep. Joe Sestak's (D-PA) challenge in the Democratic primary against Sen. Arlen Specter, who switched form the Republicans to the Dems in April -- and said that the integrity of the political system is an issue in the race.

Sestak said that when word had first got out that he would be running against Specter in the primary, Frank approached him and said, "Joe, I would love to support you."

Frank laid out the reasons he was for Sestak, citing his record on issues such as national security and the economy. "I also think frankly that this is important for the integrity of the political system," said Frank. "Sen. Specter has a very distinguished political career but he made it clear that he ad left the party he had been in for along time solely because he didn't think he could be re-elected in that party, and he changed his views on a number of issues."

I asked Frank whether he meant that President Obama, Vice President Biden and other Democrats were damaging the party's credibility by supporting Specter. "I think they are mistaken," said Frank. "I think - I understand the impulse, it is that we want to encourage converts, and I understand that. I do think though in this case, given the strength of a candidate like Joe Sestak, that they're making a mistake."

"I understand why he would want to focus on getting to the 60th vote," Frank later added. "I understand that, but it doesn't bind the rest of us."

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The New York Times sheds light on the hot new tactic for lawmakers who want to get around Congressional ethics rules that ban corporate-financed travel. Just use a non-profit group -- which aren't subject to the ban -- as a pass through for corporate money.

That's how it seems to have worked when Republican congressmen James Sensenbrenner and Tom Price traveled to Liechtenstein in February to learn about its banking system -- as well as to visit a ski resort and tour the Prince of Lichtenstein's wine cellar.

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The stated goal of Tea Party: The Documentary Film (a movie made by tea partiers, for tea partiers) is to reveal the heart of the movement, "to share the story with those on the outside who are looking to understand its true nature."

In that, it fails. The tea partiers it follows -- a pastor/Revolutionary War re-enactor, a black Libertarian, a health insurance agent, a urologist and a Tea Party organizer -- talk about protecting their freedoms. But which freedoms?

The confusion may be a product of the film's production. The movie has a plotline of sorts, following the partiers on their way (both physically and philosophically) to the 9/12 march, but it also takes us on wild, nonsensical tangents and relies heavily on the montage.

We're taken to a restaurant in Georgia called the Right Wing Tavern, where "The Kennedy" sandwich features a dip "for drowning." We watch a Revolutionary War re-enactor struggle for a full minute to buckle his seatbelt before he takes off toward a tea party.

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