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If you're running for President on a legalization platform and can't secure country singer and proud pothead Willie Nelson's endorsement, you probably should just go home. Fortunately for Republican candidate Gary Johnson, Nelson announced his support on Tuesday.

Nelson met with Johnson after a performance in his native Texas before committing the Teapot Party, a group he founded to advocate for ending restrictions on marijuana, to backing the former New Mexico governor's campaign.

"I am truly gratified to have the endorsement of such an iconic entertainer, philanthropist, innovator and champion for individual rights as Willie Nelson," Johnson said in a press release by the group "Not only is he a superstar talent, he is a bold advocate for social change. Americans are demanding the freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams without interference from a heavy-handed government, and Willie Nelson lends a tremendous voice to those demands."

According to the release, Johnson is the first presidential candidate to ever receive the group's backing. Nelson personally backed Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) in the 2004 and 2008 Democratic primaries.

Not since David Lee Roth left Van Halen has a defection augured so poorly for team success. On Tuesday, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) told reporters he was stepping away from the Gang of Six negotiations -- a bipartisan working group of senators putting together a plan to reduce the deficit and debt -- over their inability to agree on entitlement spending cuts.

After a bit of confusion over Coburn's status in these talks, his spokesman John Hart confirmed the departure in a statement, "He has decided to take a break from the talks."

A source with knowledge of the negotiations says Coburn ultimately broke ranks after members of the group rejected his proposal to introduce a global cap on Medicare spending that would have cut $150 billion from current beneficiaries.

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This has been a hard week for the GOP's presidential prospects. First Newt Gingrich laid into the House Republican budget plan with the force of a DailyKos diarist. Now another big name (likely) presidential candidate is refusing to admit that man-made climate change might be a hoax.

"If 90 percent of the oncological community said something was causing cancer we'd listen to them," former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman told Time in a new interview. "I respect science and the professionals behind the science so I tend to think it's better left to the science community - though we can debate what that means for the energy and transportation sectors."

The reaction to that little nugget was about as you'd expect.

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Newt Gingrich isn't the only victim of his political implosion this week. His biting remarks on the Republicans' Medicare plan come right as Democrats sharpen their attacks on the Republican budget -- and party officials are only too happy to bank his remarks for later.

"We're getting a gold mine of things we can use," Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the chair of the DSCC in a difficult election cycle, told TPM when asked about Gingrich.

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Ever thought that a visual representation of Glenn Beck's rhetoric would be the perfect thing to really tie your room together? Well, if you had an extra $10,000 lying around last weekend, you could have made that wish come true.

That's because Beck auctioned off six paintings over the weekend, several of which he painted solo or with the help of an artist, and one that was given to him as a gift. The paintings sold for up to $10,300 each, with the proceeds going to an as yet undisclosed charity.

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Offering up a new excuse for calling Paul Ryan's Medicare plan "right wing social engineering," Newt Gingrich blamed his comments on harsh questioning from Meet The Press host David Gregory.

In a conference call Tuesday with conservative bloggers, Gingrich said that he was unprepared for a series of "gotcha" questions on individual mandates and the Ryan budget, both of which had been major stories for days before the interview.

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Republicans may have a point that Democrats are playing politics with oil subsidies. To understand why, look no further than the fact that the bill Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will bring to the floor for a vote Tuesday evening doesn't pass basic constitutional muster.

"The question is if the bill passes the Senate, it will run into a blue-slip problem," Reid said at his weekly Capitol press conference. Blue slipping is the process the House uses to reject Senate bills that impact tax and spending.

Reid joked, "That's the least of my worries."

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In a column for The American Spectator, Former Nixon speechwriter and TV game show host Ben Stein called the U.S. public's reaction to the arrest of IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in New York City this weekend "shameful," and wondered aloud if "[Strauss-Kahn] is such a womanizer and violent guy with women, why didn't he ever get charged until now?"

"If he's found guilty, there will be plenty of time to criticize him and imprison him," Stein wrote. "But nothing has been proved yet except that the way this case has been handled so far is an embarrassment to this country."

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Newt Gingrich is facing criticism for yet another idea he has floated during his presidential campaign -- that the country bring back tests for voting, which were banned by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as a tool used to suppress African-American voters. Now, Think Progress reports, none other than Tea Party favorite Rep. Allen West (R-FL), an African-American, is disagreeing -- and referring to the sort of discrimination that his own parents faced.

Think Progress asked West about Gingrich's position that there should be a required knowledge of history in order to vote.

"I mean, that's going back to some, you know, times that my parents had to contend with," said West, who then segued into discussing his concerns with America's education system failing young people, and his admiration of a high school student in his district who has sought to be an intern for him.

He returned to the subject in conclusion: "I think that we need to do a better job educating our young men and women in school, but we don't need to have a litmus test, no."

In the pre-Voting Rights Act era, the Jim Crow states used literacy tests as a means of preventing African-Americans from registering to vote. Local registrars (who were all white) would often exempt white voters entirely or only give them a simple task, compared to a complex series of civics questions given to black citizens. (Here is an actual literacy test used in Alabama.)

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