TPM News

A strange thing seems to be happening in California. State Attorney General Jerry Brown, the former governor from 1975-1983, recent mayor of Oakland from 1999-2007, and three-time presidential candidate, appears to actually be the favorite to be the next governor -- making for a whole new act for one of the most colorful political personalities that state has had in the last 50 years.

As a new profile in the American Prospect explains, Brown has been known for his eccentric mix of progressive cultural values and fiscally conservative governance. When he was governor, he was strongly supportive of civil rights, the environment and labor unions, but was also very tight with money. He once famously declared: "I am going to starve the schools financially until I get some educational reforms." And when he ran for president in 1992, he supported the traditionally right-wing flat tax.

Beyond that, Brown is best known for his colorful personal life when he was governor -- he picked up the nickname "Governor Moonbeam" for his practice of Zen meditation, and he dated singer Linda Ronstadt while he was in office. There also the matter of his rather unconventional official state portrait, shown above. This all contributed to a somewhat inaccurate caricature of him as a left-winger. But now, he's been emerging as the well-known, safe choice for governor, to succeed the term-limited Republican Arnold Schwarzengger -- himself a colorful personality for obvious reasons.

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Angry town hall outbursts have officially wound their way into pop culture as Starbucks, which is pushing a new instant coffee, references the town hallers in a couple of new ads out this week.

The theme of the ads is that no one -- not priests, rabbis and jockeys, not people who look like their pets, not Civil War re-enactors -- can taste the difference between their fresh and instant coffees.

In this one, a narrator says, "People who yell at town hall meetings can't taste the difference."

Watch:

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued the following prepared remarks Tuesday morning regarding the "level playing field" public option amendment. Here's the full text:

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A judge will allow accused fraudster Allen Stanford to be transferred from a private Texas jail to a federal prison in downtown Houston so he can better prepare his case, Bloomberg reports.

Stanford, who as of last night was still in a prison infirmary after suffering injuries in a fight, will be closer to court-appointed lawyers at the Houston facility.

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In a pair of fundraisers yesterday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Newt Gingrich raised $250,000 and $100,000, respectively, for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell.

The pair are the latest stars of the GOP to raise cash for McDonnell, who is running against Democrat Creigh Deeds in this year's race. Last week, an event with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney added $100,000 to McDonnell's campaign chest.

And it looks like he's gonna need it: Some of the latest polls have shown Deeds tightening the gap, catching up to within four points or so of McDonnell.

On Sunday, we reported that two GOP Senators -- Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Kit Bond (R-MO) -- had suggested "regime change" as a good U.S. goal for Iran.

Well, add Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to that list. Last night on The O'Reilly Factor, the former GOP presidential nominee endorsed "regime change" in Iran.

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One point that often gets overlooked in the current freak-out over ACORN, is that the US attorney firings were, in part, a different manifestation of the same Republican-driven campaign to discredit and sideline the group that we've seen recently.

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow last night interviewed David Iglesias, and reminded us that Iglesias was fired in large part for not pursuing bogus voter fraud cases tied to ACORN. The New Mexico GOP, along with Karl Rove, understood that hampering the registration of poor and minority voters was crucial to boosting Republicans' chances in the minority-heavy state. And that pressuring law enforcement to bring voter fraud cases implicating ACORN, despite the lack of evidence, was the best way to do it.

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Former California GOP congressman John Doolittle has been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of Jack Abramoff crony Kevin Ring.

Ring, a former top aide to Doolittle, was indicted last year for allegedly bribing lawmakers and members of the executive branch, after he left Capitol Hill and went to work for Abramoff. The indictment charged that, among other crimes, Ring provided lavish meals and events tickets to members of Doolittle's staff, and that Ring provided Doolittle's wife, Julia, with a lucrative non-profit job, arranged by Abramoff. Julia Doolittle has also been named as a co-conspirator.

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Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has introduced his public option amendment before the Senate Finance Committee. In making the pitch to the panel's skeptics, he's noted that it will save the federal government about $50 billion over 10 years, and would be, as its name implies optional--i.e. it's not a "government takeover" of health care.

Late update: To the chagrin of chairman Max Baucus, Rockefeller is lambasting the insurance industry, and citing a number of ways other health care reform bills do a better job at reining in their excesses. He cited insurance industry whistleblower Wendell Potter, who said that, without a public option, health care reform legislation might as well be named the "Insurance Industry Profit Protection Act."

The House bill, Rockefeller noted, would place strict limits on the so-called medical-loss ratio (i.e. percentage of each premium dollar that can go to profits, administrative costs, and other non-health care related activities.)

Late, late update: It's worth mentioning that you can follow the hearing at this link.

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Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) continues to be a scold to the liberals in his party. Before a crowd of over 200 gathered at a senior center in Nebraska, Nelson said health care reform ought to pass with 65 votes--a feat which would require at least five Republicans to break with their party.

"I think anything less than that would challenge its legitimacy," he said.

Nelson didn't go so far as to say that he'd oppose a bill that had less than 64 other votes. But he did say he disagreed with the party's legislative approach to the issue.

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