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So as we reported yesterday, longtime AIG CEO Hank Greenberg went before Congress and placed the blame for the firm's collapse squarely on the execs who took over after he left in 2005 -- including on the crew currently at the helm, who Greeenberg said should be replaced.

But we've been struck by the ferocity of AIG's response to Greenberg, who's been skirmishing with the firm pretty much since he stepped down. Despite its awkward position as a ward of the state -- not to mention as the prime corporate face of the greed and recklessness that caused the financial crisis -- AIG has mounted an aggressive public-relations counter-offensive.

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The state of Alaska is providing with one of those great entertaining moments from a mostly one-party state: When members of the same party, in this case the Republicans, start openly ripping each other apart.

Congressman Don Young has broken from the calls by Sarah Palin and the Alaska Republican Party, who say that Democratic Sen. Mark Begich should resign because he was only elected through the botched prosecution against Sen. Ted Stevens. After Stevens was convicted of several felony counts, Begich went on to narrowly win the election -- but now the Justice Department has dropped all the charges in light of prosecutorial misconduct. Young doesn't like the result, but it is what it is.

Young is going a bit further, however, and making a suggestion for another way that Ted Stevens could make a political comeback: Running for governor in 2010. This would presumably involve Stevens running against Sarah Palin, a giant of her state's politics. Now why would Young suggest such a thing?

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Much of this weeks budget drama centered around what it will portend for clean energy legislation. At the end of it all, though, environmental groups are fairly united behind the final products.

Josh Dorner of the Sierra Club says, "We aren't putting out a statement about passage, but obviously we are very excited that both the House and the Senate delivered the president what he needs, more than ample room to do whatever he wants to do on clean energy."

Steven Biel, Greenpeace's Global Warming Campaign Director, echoes that sentiment. "It's good that they've included the reserve fund [for clean energy legislation]," Biel says. "It represents political momentum in the right direction.... You've got senators from coal and oil producing states voting to support cap and trade."

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Grassroots progressive groups are beginning to chime in with reactions to House and Senate Budget resolution, and they're all pretty positive. Roger Hickey, co-director of Campaign for America's Future (CAF) said, "The economic recovery package and this budget are needed to begin moving us in a dramatically different direction. This budget represents transformational change."

For a time, anyhow, CAF had dedicated itself to opposing the obstructive efforts of conservative Democrats in the Senate, and they may be encouraged by the fact that only two such Democrats (Evan Bayh and Ben Nelson) voted against the bill.

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Yesterday, John Boehner's office told us Republicans would be standing by their claim that cap and trade legislation would cost American households an average of $3,128 a year--even though John Reilly, the scientist upon whose study they based that estimate, told them their calculations were wildly off.

Now Boehner's made it official by releasing a "Leader Alert" explaining their fuzzy logic.

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DCCC has sent out another fundraising e-mail, responding to an NRCC e-mail that claimed Dems were trying to "pull a Franken" and steal the NY-20 special election.

The new e-mail, authored by Paul Begala, takes the form of forwarding the original NRCC e-mail -- though with the links to the NRCC's donation page disabled, of course -- and marveling at the accusation:

Yup. The same party that stole an entire Presidential election in 2000 and is right now still trying to steal a Senate race in Minnesota just sent this outrageous e-mail to their supporters. They're accusing us of trying to steal the too-close-to-call special election in New York's 20th District, even though Democratic candidate Scott Murphy led the vote count on Election Night!

I just had to forward their e-mail so you can see what we're up against. Read it below!


It's possible that Republican Jim Tedisco may have actually taken a lead, as the counties are going through the standard process of correcting initial errors in their spreadsheets -- and again, this doesn't include any absentee ballots. But at the time the NRCC sent out that accusation that Dems were trying to steal it, Democrat Scott Murphy was in fact ahead in all available counts.

Check out the full Begala e-mail, after the jump.

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A new Gallup poll tests how former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney have fared in public opinion since they left office. The answer: Badly.

Bush's favorable rating is only 35%, with 63% unfavorable. Cheney is at 30% favorable to 62% unfavorable.

Bush's popularity had been inching up a bit over the course of the 2008 campaign and as he was on the way out -- up to a high of 40% favorable and 59% unfavorable in early January -- but his numbers now are back near the all-time low of 32% favorable and 66% unfavorable from April 2008.

I noted earlier that two of the Senate's most conservative Democrats--Evan Bayh and Ben Nelson--voted against the Democrats' budget. That's not terribly surprising. The resolution wasn't vulnerable to a filibuster, their votes weren't strictly necessary, and, whether they were ideologically opposed to the measure that passed, or adhering to the demands of their conservative constituents, or bending to the whims of special interests, voting "no" allows them to say they voted "no" without necessarily wedding themselves to an alternative proposal.

Enter Mike Johanns, the freshman Republican senator from Nebraska whose amendment preventing the Senate from passing climate change legislation through the reconciliation process passed on Tuesday.

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Attorney General Eric Holder signaled Thursday that the Justice Department will work more closely with state and federal prosecutors to crack down on financial fraud, in response to the recent increase in white-collar crime convictions. To prevent future Madoff-like crimes, Holder said that the Justice Department must work with local and federal officials and consider instituting a task force to investigate fraud and other white-collar crime. (Wall Street Journal)

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Obama Seeking International Agreement On Afghanistan President Obama is meeting with NATO leaders today in France and Germany, seeking international backing for his new plans for Afghanistan and Pakistan. And so far he is picking up support, as French President Nicolas Sarkozy said at their joint news conference today: "We completely support the new American strategy in Afghanistan."

Obama's Day Ahead: France And Germany President Obama and Michelle Obama arrived this morning in Strasbourg, France, at about 4:45 a.m. ET. AT 5:35 a.m. ET he met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and at 6:35 a.m. ET the two briefly addressed the press pool. He held a town hall at 7:25 a.m. ET. At 9 a.m. ET the Obamas will leave for Baden-Baden, Germany, with Obama meeting Chancellor Angela Merkel at 9:45 a.m. ET. Obama and Merkel will address the press pool at 10:45 a.m. ET. President Obama and Michelle Obama will attend the NATO Concert at 1 p.m. ET, and President Obama will attend a NATO leaders working dinner at 2:15 p.m. ET. The Obamas will depart from Germany, going back to Strasbourg, at 5 p.m. ET.

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