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Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was convicted Wednesday of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The money laundering charge carries a 99-year maximum sentence -- in other words, life in prison.

But don't expect DeLay to be sent away for the rest of his days.

"It is absolutely impossible he would get anywhere near life," Philip Hilder, a Texas criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, told the Associated Press. "It would be a period of a few years, if he gets prison."

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Sen. Lisa Murkowski filed a motion on Wednesday to intervene in Joe Miller's lawsuit against the state of Alaska and the Alaska Division of Elections, arguing that she deserves to be a party to the suit "to keep those thousands of voters from being disenfranchised by Mr. Miller."

In the motion, Murkowski's attorney Scott M. Kendall wrote that "there are numerous critical issues facing our nation and Alaskans deserve to have full representation in the United States Senate."

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A manual for incoming freshman Republicans, distributed by GOP leadership is meant to help them hit the ground running -- but also to stay out of trouble.

"It is important to keep in mind that even if you haven't violated any rules, the appearance of impropriety can be just as damaging. So always be certain that everything you do as a member is -- and appears to be -- above board," it reads.

With scores of new members, many untested in politics, coming to Washington, it's inevitable that at least a few will keep leadership awake at night, wondering if and how they might embarrass the party. Everyone's been put on notice, but here are five GOPers who, given their past scrapes, will likely be getting the gimlet eye from the top brass.

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Just like the last big Republican mega-wave of 1994, the election of 2010 has been followed by a series of low-level party switches among remaining conservative Southern Democrats. And in Alabama, where the GOP gained majorities in both houses of the state legislature, the latest round of switching has had an extra special effect.

As the Montgomery Advertiser reports, the switches of four conservative Dem state representatives to the Republican Party this past Monday has given the GOP 66 seats out of 105 in the House. As it turns out, both houses of the Alabama legislature have rules that allow for the minority to force procedural delays similar to the filibuster in the U.S. Senate. And these Dems have gotten the GOP right there to the three-fifths majority necessary to force cloture, along with the cloture-ready majority they also achieved in the Senate.

The incoming Republican Speaker Mike Hubbard said that the party will maintain unity on those key procedural votes, thus using their supermajority to its fullest:

He said they will require Republicans to vote in a bloc to bring up legislation that is on the caucus's agenda, but "we never tell a member how to vote on final passage." He said it is important for the caucus to stand together on issues important to the members."

It's reasonable to assume that tea partiers, Fox News hosts and conservative bloggers look forward to today for the same reason most Americans do: the turkey (or tofurkey, depending on your preference) and the football (or cable TV marathons, depending on your preference.)

But those folks also look forward to Thanksgiving for another reason that it's equally reasonable to imagine most Americans don't: the celebration of capitalism's final victory over communist-leaning Pilgrims.

"Sadly, few Americans know the real story of the early colonists," FreedomWorks' Julie Borowski wrote yesterday. "For evidence of the failures of communism, we do not need to look to disastrous experiments in foreign lands. In fact, the Plymouth Plantation is one of the most apparent examples of the failures of collectivism."

FreedomWorks is, of course, a leading tea party organization headed by Dick Armey. But tea partiers aren't the only ones saying that by breaking bread together on that first Thanksgiving, the early American colonists were really breaking the back of socialism.

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1||Happy Thanksgiving, hooray hooray hooray, aren't you glad you're a presidentially pardoned turkey on this Thanksgiving Day...

...But not this turkey, which President Bill Clinton prepares to cut at Camp David, in 2000.

It's become an annual tradition for presidents to celebrate Thanksgiving by pardoning turkeys at the White House. Some photos through the years... ||Newscom/BlackStar&&

2||President Lyndon B. Johnson. ||Lyndon B. Johnson Library&&

3||President Harry Truman, 1949. ||Wikimedia&&

4||President George W. Bush greets members of the Chickahominy tribe of Virginia after delivering remarks on Thanksgiving at the Berkeley Plantation in Charles City, VA in 2007.||Newscom/UPI&&

5||President Ronald Reagan pardons the Thanksgiving turkey in 1984.||Newscom/BlackStar&&

6||President Herbert Hoover, 1929.||Library of Congress&&

7||President Gerald Ford, 1975.||Wikimedia&&

8||President Richard Nixon in 1969.||National Archives&&

9||President George H.W. Bush in 1989.||Newscom/BlackStar&&

10||President George W. Bush in 2007. ||Newscom/BlackStar&&

11||President John F. Kennedy in 1962.||Wikimedia&&

12||President Bill Clinton in 2000. ||Newscom/BlackStar&&

13||President Barack Obama in 2010. ||Newscom/Sipa&&

14||A turkey is delivered to the White House for President Warren G. Harding in the 1920s.||Library of Congress &&

15||President Theodore Roosevelt signs his 1902 Thanksgiving Proclamation Act.||Library of Congress &&

After deliberating for 19 hours over three days, a jury has found former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According to the Associated Press, DeLay faces up to life in prison.

The charges stem from the 2002 Texas state house elections, when DeLay's Texas PAC, known as TRMPAC, collected $190,000 in corporate donations and sent the money to the Republican National Committee. The RNC then sent a total of $190,000 to seven Republican state house candidates hand-picked by DeLay's PAC.

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Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) is voicing a hint of dissent against Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) continuing as Minority Leader -- saying that she did vote for Pelosi in the leadership contest, but wouldn't have actually run if she'd been in the same shoes:

"If I was the Speaker and I had lost 63 votes I would not have stood election. But the fact is she did, there was nobody to seriously challenge her," Berkley said in an interview with Jon Ralston.

"If I were Speaker, I wouldn't have," Berkley added. "But she did and she had no serious opposition as much as I like Heath Shuler..."

(Via Sam Stein)

Pity poor Alan Simpson. Three weeks after he and fellow presidential debt commission co-chair Erskine Bowles tried to put a positive spin on their incredibly controversial prescription to balance the federal budget, Simpson is still taking heat from critics on both sides of the aisle.

"I've never had any nastier mail or [been in a] more difficult position in my life," Simpson told the Casper Star-Tribune in his homestate of Wyoming.

"Just vicious," Simpson said. "People I've known, relatives [saying], "'You son of a bitch. How could you do this?'"

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