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Now here's an interesting spin on the Arlen Specter switch. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) appeared on Fox News today, where he presented the case that Specter's switch is the first evidence that people are rebelling against Obama, and that the Republican Party is coming back!

Inhofe explained that this was a sign that Obama and the Democrats were overreaching, just as Bill Clinton did in 1993, and the people are rebelling against it just as they did in 1994:



"Now the evidence of this was found out when Arlen Specter made his decision," Inhofe explained. "And that is all of a sudden, we find out that Arlen Specter is down in the Republican Party, down in terms of his popularity. The guy that ran against him and was defeated by Arlen Specter in, six years ago, now is so far ahead of him that Arlen Specter's own advisers said there's no way that you can win this thing unless you change to the Democratic Party. Now to me, that's the evidence it's coming."

Inhofe appears to be thinking here that the state of opinion in the Republican Party is tantamount to the nation's opinion overall. This might be true enough if it's just applied to his home state of Oklahoma. But as we've learned in 2006, 2008 and recent months, this doesn't exactly apply to the whole country.

Rep. Scott Murphy (D-NY) was just sworn in to the House of Representatives, capping off a four-week process that has lasted since the photo-finish on the night of his special election way back on March 31.

Murphy has taken the upstate New York seat formerly held by U.S. Sen Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), whose appointment to the Senate caused the special election in this marginal district. It took over three weeks for the winner to be known as absentee ballots were counted, with Murphy up by 399 votes at the end of last week when his Republican opponent Jim Tedisco conceded the race.

Murphy's certificate of election has not actually been issued yet, as the state continues to go through the bureaucratic niceties of finalizing the vote count. But because the outcome is no longer in any doubt, Murphy was permitted to take the oath of office.

Late Update: A funny moment occurred during the swearing-in. Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for the whole New York delegation to step forward. "Aren't there any Republicans from New York?" Pelosi asked rhetorically, and then chuckled. There are three GOP members out of 29, down from nine GOPers just four years ago.

As the calls for his impeachment grow louder, Jay Bybee -- the Bush OLC lawyer who wrote one of the torture memos, and who is now a federal judge -- has been given the chance to share his side of the story.

The unlikely invitation comes from Pat Leahy, the chair of the Senate Judiciary committee. In a letter sent to Bybee today, Leahy invites him to testify before the committee about his role in writing the memos.

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This is a little bit deep in the weeds, but you may recall that back in early April when the Senate was debating the budget, Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) introduced an amendment meant to prevent the Senate from passing climate change legislation through the reconciliation process, and it passed by a wide margin.

Well, in conference, that amendment was stripped out completely. Mike Johanns is very unhappy. But that doesn't mean that a cap-and-trade program will absolutely be established during the reconciliation process. And it doesn't mean that Democrats will be hanging the threat over Republicans' heads the way they are with health reform. In fact, the conference report basically says this won't happen. But technically there won't be anything (other than Senate politics) stopping Democrats from doing so.

We feel a bit better about our own conflicted feelings about Bank of America's embattled CEO (and happy hour enthusiast) Ken Lewis after reading the Charlotte Observer's live Twitter feed of the bank's annual meeting. Dozens of shareholders are currently giving short speeches for and against ousting him today, and it is clear the bank's owners divided as well. The quintessential annual meeting muckraker Evelyn Y. Davis (the quintessential Evelyn Y. Davis profile is here) just spoke -- and she gave Lewis her full support.

As we noted earlier, the movement to oust Lewis has made bedfellows of MoveOn.org and McCain donors, and the camp that wants to let him stay is equally diverse. Davis, Habitat For Humanity, and the widely-worshiped bank analyst Meredith Whitney are all on Lewis' side. So who did John Moore, the sole shareholder thus far to be reported quoting the Bible, support?

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A new survey of Illinois from Public Policy Polling (D) finds that Sen. Roland Burris appears to be a sitting duck in any Democratic primary, if he does indeed run in 2010.

Burris' approval rating among likely Democratic primary voters is only 27%, to 49% disapproval. In a primary against state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who has already declared his candidacy, Giannoulias leads with 49% to Burris at 20%. Adding Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who is publicly mulling a candidacy and will announce her intentions in June, it's Giannoulis 38%, Schakowsky 26%, Burris 16%.

If state Attorney General Lisa Madigan were to get in, though, she could take the whole field: Madigan 44%, Giannoulias 19%, Burris 13%, Schakowsky 11%. If Madigan were to run for governor instead, she also has a 45%-29% lead over the new Governor Pat Quinn, who took office after Rod Blagojevich was removed from office.

Yesterday we told you that federal investigators are now zeroing in on two other AIG staffers, in addition to Joseph Cassano, as part of their probe into potential criminal wrongdoing at AIG. But a report (sub. req.) in the Wall Street Journal, which confirmed that information, also began to flesh out the more interesting question of just what the Feds suspect Cassano and his crew may have done wrong.

We knew that that December 2007 presentation, at which Cassano and others reassured investors that everything was basically fine, was drawing particular scrutiny from investigators. But the Journal adds some meat to that bone.

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Here's a cool way to get out of debt most Americans probably wish they had as an option: Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign made $2.5 million this year renting out its list of supporters to Hillary Clinton's campaign for Senate, the Wall Street Journal reports today, following up on last week's Politico item. That's enough to pay back the $2.3 million the campaign still owes to her campaign strategist Mark Penn.

Clinton's now-dormant political action committee, Hill PAC, also paid $822,000 to rent the list, and the William J. Clinton Foundation paid "more than $274,000" to rent the list. Why the sweetheart deal for her husband? Maybe it wasn't as valuable to an entity that already has a 2,922-page list of its own. The campaign tells the Journal the prices were set by outside appraisers. It made another $1 million renting out the list to 18 other customers, which paid an average of $50,000 apiece.

The significance of this, apart from "campaign finance is complicated," according to the Journal, is that Hillary is "holding onto" the list in "part of a plan that looks to retain an element of [her] political operation while she serves as secretary of state."

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