TPM News

In an alternative universe concocted by Fox News, Andrew Breitbart, and TCOT (top conservatives on twitter), the Madison capitol has become the island in Lord of the Flies, except the savages in this case are union "thugs." The mob has taken over, thick with radicals, and Republicans are likely to be attacked as a matter of course.

In reality, the long protest in Madison has been remarkably civil. As a testament to that, conservative media outlets are having a hard time finding examples of on-scene violence in Wisconsin that really bring their alternative narrative home. They've even gone so far as to claim their own reporters are under assault when they are not. Indeed, just as they accuse unions of busing in protesters from out of state, they've bussed in out-of-state footage, to make a case that can't be made by the facts.

Check out this clip from Monday night's episode of the O'Reilly Factor, a lower-quality version of which has gone viral on social media sites.

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On Wednesday morning, the Senate will pass a short term spending bill to postpone a government shutdown until at least March 18. After that, it becomes a question of whether Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate respectively can come to a longer-term agreement, to keep the lights on through September.

What's already settled is that any such agreement will include spending cuts. What isn't known yet is whose priorities win the day -- which federal accounts get more money, and which get less. But more important than that may be whether rank and file Republicans in the House will be willing to vote for a spending bill that strips away their controversial policy priorities.

When the House passed a seven-month funding bill last month, it included scores of riders, which deny funding to the Obama administration to do -- well, many things: implement the health care law, implement environmental regulations, the list goes on. Neither President Obama, nor the Democratic Senate are likely to accept most of them as part of a longer-term "continuing resolution," and so the question now is whether those House Republicans will revolt.

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Stephen Colbert was incensed on Tuesday night that, while every other news station was trumpeting their "exclusive interviews" with Charlie Sheen, Katie Couric of CBS news had the audacity to lead with a story about Libya.

"Really, Katie? Qaddafi?" Colbert said. "Charlie Sheen is a Golden Globe winner. Qaddafi wasn't even nominated for his guest appearance on 'Shit My Dad Says.'

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Mild-mannered perhaps to a fault, Tim Pawlenty hasn't exactly been observers' pick for presidential candidate most likely to capture the imagination of the rowdy Tea Party movement.

Yet the Minnesota governor is giving it his all, launching an aggressive effort to court the conservative grassroots in early primary states and around the country with appearances at Tea Party events, red meat rhetoric, and outreach in the crucial caucus state of Iowa.

On Saturday, Pawlenty was the keynote speaker at the Tea Party Patriots Summit in Arizona, delivering a rousing love letter to the activists in attendance, whom he labeled "modern day Paul Reveres."

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The Daily Show kicked off their presidential election coverage last night with the first installment of Indecision 2012. The was just one problem: there are no Republican candidates officially running yet.

Jon Stewart was incredulous, asking why, if the President is really as radical as Republicans claim, they aren't clamoring to take him on.

"Hurry up!," Stewart said. "By then the teachers unions will have us all under Sharia law panels!"

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Lila Rose, the head of the anti-abortion activist group LiveAction, decried Eric Holder's statement on Tuesday that the FBI will not prosecute in connection with a LiveAction video "sting," which was aimed at catching Planned Parenthood employees looking the other way on sex traffickers.

"An untold number of women, and possibly underage girls, are being exploited and likely in danger and the Justice Department is looking the other way," Rose said in a statement.

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On the heels of their nascent campaign to (maybe) recall five GOP state Senators in Wisconsin, a coalition of national progressive groups is going on the air with ads aimed directly at embattled Gov. Scott Walker (R) and the state GOP.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy For America are sponsoring the ad, which will air in the Milwaukee and Madison markets on broadcast and cable for the rest of the week. The sponsors tell TPM that the buy will allow the message to reach as much as 57% of Wisconsin voters.

PCCC and DFA have already raised more than $160,000 for the AWOL state Senate Democrats in just the last week alone, and PCCC says they expect the TV spot to bring a "significant" new round of fundraising. As money comes in, PCCC and DFA will expand the markets for the TV ad and extend its run. The ad is running alongside an online fundraising effort run by PCCC and DFA.

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Gingrich 2012 News Gets Mixed Hill Response Roll Call reports: "The confirmation Tuesday that Newt Gingrich will explore a run for president was greeted by official Washington with a mixture of indifference, excitement and a general prediction that the former Speaker can't win...A Republican political operative based in Washington, D.C., added that Gingrich's personal life could be a major obstacle in the primary, even as this individual described his potential candidacy as a positive development. "

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will receive the presidential daily briefing at 10 a.m. ET, and Obama will meet at 10:30 a.m. ET with senior advisers. Obama and Biden will meet at 12:30 p.m. ET for lunch. At 1:45 p.m. ET, Obama will award the 2010 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal. Obama and Biden will meet at 4:30 p.m. ET with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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With Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (D) retiring at the end of his term, the race to replace him in 2012 looks like a total toss up, according to a new PPP poll.

In the poll, the strongest potential candidate from each party -- former Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine and former Republican Sen. George Allen -- topped every challenger thrown against them. Yet in a head-to-head match-up, Kaine and Allen tied at 47% apiece.

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