TPM News

Jon Stewart was pretty incredulous last night at Dick Morris' claim on Fox News that the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero is actually a "terrorist command center." He said: "You know, just for the record, I'm against establishing a terrorist command post at Ground Zero. Or really anywhere in the city."

Stewart then followed Fox News' lead, and played what Stewart called "six degrees of people who don't eat bacon" to connect Rupert Murdoch, Fox News, and Osama Bin Laden -- and was left with the question: "Is Fox News a terrorist command center?"

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Stephen Colbert was happy to report last night that "we're out of Iraq! And best of all we got out two weeks ahead of schedule. Now Iraq will always be remembered as the war that ended early."

He added: "Let's give credit where credit is due -- to George W. Bush. After all, if this man hadn't led us into war, it certainly wouldn't be over now!"

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Republican Congressional candidate Jim Renacci has taken the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees to court, claiming the union defamed him by claiming in ads that he lied on his taxes. The ads were aimed at helping his Democratic opponent, incumbent Rep. John Boccieri (D-OH).

The battle pits the GOP against a powerful union trying to protect a freshman Democratic pickup from 2008. Prognosticators say Boccieri's 16th District seat carries advantages for the Democrats, but could go either way. Let's put it this way: It's the kind of place that Republicans say they can win this year.

It's likely Renacci suit against a major name in organized labor won't hurt his goal of rallying Republican voters for November. According to local news site CantonRep.com, Renacci says in his suit that "the union's advertising contains false and defamatory statements that Renacci tried to cheat on his taxes."

"[T]the people of our district have been witness to a new low in the level of political discourse, as John Boccieri and the union bosses at AFSCME have engaged in some of the most reprehensible and ethically bankrupt conduct this district has ever seen," Renacci told reporters in a press conference outside court house steps yesterday.

AFSCME sees things a little differently.

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A new InsiderAdvantage poll finds former Republican Rep. Nathan Deal four points ahead of former Dem Gov. Roy Barnes in the Georgia gubernatorial race.

The latest numbers, which are InsiderAdvantage's first results for the Deal-Barnes matchup, show Deal on top 45%-41%. Libertarian candidate John Monds polls at 5% in the survey. Last week, a Rasmussen poll released right after Deal's narrow victory in the Republican primary runoff showed a larger nine-point advantage for the Republican nominee. That poll did not include a specific third-party candidate.

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A lawyer representing former Blackwater employees who accuse company founder Erik Prince of defrauding the government will head to Abu Dhabi this weekend to depose the head of the controversial contractor.

Susan Burke, who has already settled seven suits against Prince in relation to the shooting of Iraqi citizens in 2007, will depose Prince in the United Arab Emirates, writes her husband Jamison Koehler.

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We brought you the story this week of a brutal radio ad running in Louisiana and paid for by David Vitter's Republican primary rival Chet Traylor. Now, Vitter's threatening to sue radio stations running it:

Attorneys for U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., threatened Thursday to sue radio stations if they continued airing a commercial critical of the senator's past conduct with women.

Vitter's attorneys claimed in a letter to the radio stations that the 60-second advertisement is "false, misleading and defamatory."

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Meet David M. Rivera. In 1994, a woman named Jenia Dorticos filed a petition for a domestic-violence restraining order against him in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

Now, meet David Mauricio Rivera. He's a Republican candidate for Congress in Florida's 25th district -- one that the National Republican Congressional Committee singled out as a "Young Gun." Since 2002, he's been a member of Florida House of Representatives, working his way up to his current position in which he oversees the state budget for education, transportation, housing and economic development.

Rivera has worked closely with GOP Senate nominee Marco Rubio. They are so close, in fact, that Rivera refers to himself as a "disciple" of Rubio, and the two owned a Tallahassee house together until last month, when it went into foreclosure (a fact Rivera initially denied).

And so begins the story of another strange election controversy in the Sunshine State, revealed in an joint investigation by the Miami Herald and a local television station.

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Franklin Graham, the Christian evangelist and son of Billy Graham, offered an explanation for the suspicions that some people have about President Obama's religion, during an appearance Thursday night on CNN.

"I think the president's problem is that he was born a Muslim, his father was a Muslim. The seed of Islam is passed through the father like the seed of Judaism is passed through the mother. He was born a Muslim, his father gave him an Islamic name," Graham told John King. "Now it's obvious that the president has renounced the prophet Mohammed and he has renounced Islam and he has accepted Jesus Christ. That's what he says he has done, I cannot say that he hasn't. So I just have to believe that the president is what he has said."

For the record, Obama's father was Barack Hussein Obama, who gave the future president his own name. President Obama has written that his father, who he rarely ever saw, was raised a Muslim but was in practice an atheist.

This line of discussion came about due to a Pew national poll showing that 18% of Americans think that Obama is a Muslim -- nearly twice the number from last year.

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Viktor Bout, a notorious arms dealer who allegedly provided weapons to former Liberian president Charles Taylor, the Taliban and FARC rebels, will soon be extradited to the U.S. -- two years after he was arrested in Thailand.

The Department of Justice announced today that Bout will be extradited to face criminal charges of conspiring to sell weapons to a terrorist organization.

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Democrats think they have David Vitter dead to rights. Travel records, they say, indicate that Vitter's one-time aide Brent Furer twice used taxpayer money to travel to Louisiana to defend himself in court on drunk driving charges. Those same records suggest that Furer seldom traveled to Louisiana on congressional business.

A TPM survey of records from Vitter's Senate office finds that Furer made just six official trips from DC to New Orleans while working for Vitter. Two of those trips coincide with court dates alone. Two others were to attend a Vittter staff retreat (one of which also overlapped with a court date). One, in August 2007, coincides with the emergence of Vitter's prostitution scandal, and the sixth took place from April 29 through May 3, 2005.

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