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Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) announced via Twitter today that he has signed onto Sen. Michael Bennet's (D-CO) letter urging leadership to use reconciliation to pass a public option.

Specter is the 19th senator to do so. The most prominent signatory is Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate.

"I'm proud to sign Sen. Bennet's letter. I support a public option to lower health costs and keep insurance co's hones," Specter tweeted.

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In a statement this afternoon, House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) says that the Justice Department torture memo report released today makes "plain that those memos were legally flawed and fundamentally unsound, and may have been improperly influenced by a desire to tell the Bush White House and the CIA what it wanted to hear."

Conyers, who posted the DOJ documents on his Web site, continued:

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The head of the union that represents IRS workers is slamming a tasteless joke about yesterday's Austin plane crash, made today by a conservative activist.

Refferring to the anti-tax activist Grover Norquist during a speech at CPAC, Jed Babbin, the editor of Human Events, said:

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Doug Hoffman is considering another bid for the 23rd Congressional district but this time will "absolutely" go the Republican establishment route, he told TPMDC.

Hoffman, who hinted he'd run a second time after losing to a Democrat last fall, said if he gets in the race it would be to "get the seat back into Republican hands."

I caught up with Hoffman for an interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference today, and he charged that Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) violated his campaign pledges on his first week in office by voting for the health care bill.

"I'm the only candidate that can unite the Republican party, the conservative party, the tea party, the 9/12ers and the grassroots of the 23rd district," he said.

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During a CPAC segment to recognize student conservative activists from across the country, one particular conservative, Ryan Sorba of the California Young Americans for Freedom, denounced CPAC for allowing the gay conservative group GOProud to co-sponsor the event and host a booth. After finishing his short speech against homosexuality as being contrary to the concept of natural rights -- amidst booing from the crowd -- he walked off the stage.

"Just to change the subject for just a second, I'd like to condemn CPAC for bringing GOPride (sic) to this event," said Sorba. The young activist crowd erupted into booing, but Sorbs continued. "Bring it. Bring it. I love it. I love it. I love it.

"Guess what? Guess what? All right, guess what? Civil rights are grounded in natural rights," said Sorba. "Natural rights are grounded in human nature. Human nature is a rational substance in relationship. The intelligible end of the reproductive act is reproduction. Do you understand that? Civil rights, when they conflict with natural rights, are contrary -- hey, you sit down. The lesbians at Smith College protest better than you do. The lesbians at Smith College protest than you do. All right? Bring it."

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House Minority Leader John Boehner released a statement today in which he supported Republican governors' request to be included in President Obama's health care summit. Here's the full text.

"Governors from both parties across America have been loud and clear: their cash-strapped states cannot afford the Democrats' massive, job-killing health care bills. If the White House intends to have an open and honest discussion of health care reform, the governors' voices deserve to be heard."

The Justice Department has released the long-awaited report on the torture memos and the conduct of Bush Administration lawyers including John Yoo.

While the final report by the department's internal watchdog, the Office of Professional Responsibility, found that attorneys John Yoo and Jay Bybee engaged in professional misconduct, top DOJ official David Margolis overruled that finding in a memo to Attorney General Eric Holder.

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Last night, Bill O'Reilly had Stewart Rhodes, founder of the right-wing extremist group "The Oath Keepers," on his show. Things got a little tense when Rhodes described the group's belief that members of the military need not follow orders they believe to be unconstitutional.

"That's a pretty extreme position," said O'Reilly.

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