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South Carolina State Sen. Michael Fair (R) doesn't quite seem to know what his proposed sharia ban bill has to do with terrorism, but he does know that "ninety nine percent probably, of the acts of terrorism around the world" have "occurred at the hands of Middle Eastern men who happen to be advocates of the Islam religion."

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Amidst Newt Gingrich's attempts at damage control over his criticism of Paul Ryan's Medicare privatization proposal, and his own past support for the individual health insurance mandate, Newt Gingrich took another step -- not only publicly signing a pledge in Iowa to repeal President Obama's health care reform law, but publishing a column in the right-wing Human Events on Wednesday, entitled, "I Signed the Pledge To Repeal Obamacare, Have You?"

The column begins:

Yesterday [Tuesday] in Mason City, Iowa, I signed the Obamacare Repeal Pledge, sponsored by the Independent Women's Voice and American Majority Action.

Obamacare is such a massive and complex power grab of a law that there are countless specific reasons to oppose the law.

The column declares the first of the many reasons to repeal the law: "It's unconstitutional. Period," and argues vigorously against the individual mandate, calling it "an assault on our country's founding principles of limited, clearly delineated federal powers and an erosion of the rule of law." Totally unmentioned in the column, of course, is that Gingrich himself advocated for an individual mandate, going back to 1993 and even just until a few years ago (and last weekend, too).

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Now that he's no longer a member of President Obama's administration, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) is free to campaign for president. And campaign he shall, starting today in New Hampshire.

Early signs of how Hunstman plans to win the nomination as a man best known in Republican circles as a moderate and best known in Democratic circles as Obama's ambassador to China point to Huntsman picking up where John McCain left off.

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Stephen Colbert struggled Wednesday night to understand Newt Gingrich's seemingly conflicting statements, ultimately calling on a robot to help him solve the puzzle. But as it turned out, Gingrich's statements were so confounding that they only caused the robot to critically malfunction.

Gingrich said on Sunday that the Republican Medicare privatization plan was too radical for America to embrace. But after catching flak from his own party, he then backtracked, and said that anyone who used his original comments against him would be lying.

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Republicans are now openly flirting with the theory that allowing the United States to default briefly on its payment obligations won't be such a bad thing -- and may even be necessary to extract concessions on entitlement spending in exchange for raising the debt limit.

But two of the biggest ratings agencies say they could downgrade the United States' triple-A credit if the government misses even a single debt-service payment.

"A sovereign's failure to service its debt as payments come due is a default according to S&P's sovereign rating criteria," writes John Piecuch, spokesman for Standard & Poors, one of the "Big Three" credit ratings agencies, in an email to me. "In that case, the rating would be lowered to "SD" (Selective Default)."

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Newt Gingrich has been extremely contrite lately, reaching out to conservative commentators, bloggers, and lawmakers in recent days to personally apologize for slamming the GOP budget as "right wing social engineering." Perhaps lost in the overwhelming appearance of a full walk back is that Gingrich hasn't really walked back anything.

"If I were re-wording it, I would have said it slightly different," he told Wisconsin TV station WXOW on Wednesday. "The intent was the same, but I'm happy to continue to evolve."

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Jon Stewart hardly needed jokes Wednesday night, instead letting clips of Newt Gingrich's botched campaign rollout speak for themselves.

It's been a very, very bad week for Newt Gingrich who has stumbled again and again since launching his presidential campaign last week. On Meet the Press on Sunday, Gingrich described the GOP's Medicare plan as, "right-wing social engineering." Republican legislators and pundits immediately dumped on him, prompting Gingrich to claim he just wasn't prepared for all the gotcha questions on the show.

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