TPM News

With the latest Gallup tracking polls showing that President Obama's approval rating among Americans is now right at 50%, it's very clear that the honeymoon period -- when his ratings were in the high 60's, and he seemed untouchable -- is now over. So what caused him to go down as quickly as he has?

The fact is, all presidents since World War II have eventually gone below 50% approval in Gallup, as Obama seems about to do any day now, with the exception of John F. Kennedy -- whose presidency was tragically cut short before this might have happened at a future date. The record for the longest 50-plus streak goes to Dwight Eisenhower, at 63 months. (People liked Ike for a long time -- but even that couldn't last forever.)

With Obama, however, his decline has happened a bit sooner than it did for others -- and there could be a good explanation why.

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We've now obtained the letter to Congress from Bonner's lawyer that we told you about earlier -- in which Bonner hilariously claims that its client, a coal industry group, was the "victim of a fraud" stemming from the forged letters to lawmakers about the climate change bill.

The letter, from Akin Gump lawyer Steven Ross to Rep. Ed Markey, can be seen here.

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A coalition of Massachusetts based interest groups and non-profits are putting together a petition urging elected officials to do Ted Kennedy's bidding and change state law to allow Governor Deval Patrick to appoint a temporary replacement for Kennedy as quickly as possible in advance of the special election that will determine his successor.

MassVOTE is leading the effort called We Need Two, which has the backing of SEIU Massachusetts, UFCW, and several other groups.

The petition is addressed to Patrick as well as Speaker of the Massachusetts House Robert DeLeo and Massachusetts Senate President Therese Murray. It warns that "keeping [Kennedy's] seat vacant for months will deny us the chance to finish his work in the Senate."

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Today's announcement by Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) that he is appointing his former chief of staff George LeMieux to the United States is a continuation of an unusual trend since the 2008 special election: That being a high-ranking staffer to a politician could be a good way to eventually be appointed as interim Senator.

LeMieux is the third top political aide to be tapped for a Senate vacancy so far this cycle. Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-DE) is a former Senate chief of staff to Joe Biden, and was appointed to serve as a caretaker in the Senate. And Bonnie Newman, a former chief of staff to Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), was selected to serve in his Senate seat before Gregg pulled out from his nomination to be Secretary of Commerce. And now LeMieux makes three -- or two and half, perhaps, depending on how you count Judd Gregg's cold feet.

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I just got off the phone with Massachusetts state Sen. Richard Tisei, the leader of the minority Republicans in the state Senate, and he confirmed to me that the GOP is not ruling out a court challenge against any possible new law to quickly fill Ted Kennedy's Senate seat through an interim appointment.

Tisei said that when Democrats changed the law in 2004 to provide for special elections instead of gubernatorial appointment -- when John Kerry was running for President and Republican Mitt Romney was Governor -- the GOP offered an amendment to have interim appointments. The Democrats, he said, are all on record shooting it down back then. And Tisei says that Dems can't change the rules to fit the new circumstances of a current vacancy.

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Bonner & Associates, the DC 'strategic grassroots' firm facing a Congressional investigation for sending forged letters opposing the climate bill to members of Congress, is instituting a new No Forgeries ethics program to get out in front of the emerging scandal and ensure its astroturf campaigns are not tainted in the future.

"This is a very rare occurrence," says a Bonner spokesman who asked that his name be withheld as a condition of talking to TPMmuckraker. "In response to it, as of August 11, the company has introduced a five-point check against this sort of thing. And every employee at Bonner has signed it and dated it."

Rule number one: no forged letters.

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The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is raising money on a survey created by the Republican National Committee, which alleges that GOP voters will be denied care in a reformed health system.

"[T]he RNC is actually suggesting that health insurance reform is a Democratic plot to deny health care to Republicans using voter registration data," reads a letter to supporters.

[I]t is just a preview of the falsehoods, fabrications and outright lies Republicans will be pushing when Congress returns in September. We must be prepared to fight back hard and respond immediately to these outrageous attacks.

Help us reach our $100,000 goal before the August 31st FEC deadline.


H/T Glenn Thrush.

An RNC spokesperson yesterday admitted it was "inartful" to suggest that health care providers would, either voluntarily or by act of law, deny health care to Republican voters--an allegation that the AMA also swatted down.

Yesterday, we got new details on Allen Stanford's alleged $8 billion fraud, with the release of the plea deal signed by the Texas banker's number 2 man.

Jim Davis, Stanford's college roommate and the CFO of the Stanford Financial Group, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud and obstruction charges. He told prosecutors that the company was a sham from the start, using money from new investors to pay off old ones. Davis also described how for years he helped cover up the scheme, and helped bribe a top Antiguan regulator to keep the SEC off the scent.

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The national Democratic Party is now going there in the fight against Sen. David Vitter (R-LA): Directly attacking the staunch conservative for having taken in the services of prostitutes. And not just that, but the Dems are raising money off of it.

The DSCC has sent out a new e-mail to its supporter list, going after Vitter and hailing his Democratic opponent, Blue Dog Rep. Charlie Melancon. The e-mail has a list, "FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SENATOR DAVID VITTER," and then goes through various follies of his.

Last on the list: "5. David Vitter Confessed to Using D.C. Escort Service. In a revelation embarrassing to the entire state of Louisiana, Vitter in 2007 admitted to being a client of the infamous "D.C. Madam" after his phone number showed up in her records. He later apologized for his "very serious sin."

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

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