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Have things reached the point in the ongoing (and going, and going...) Minnesota Senate race, where even Norm Coleman's staffers may have seen the writing on the wall? In recent weeks, two of his top staffers have gotten new jobs.

LeRoy Coleman (no relation), who served as Coleman's Senate communications director, has now joined the Republican National Committee as director of media affairs. And two weeks ago another top Coleman staffer, campaign manager Cullen Sheehan, became an RNC regional director.

The fact that Sheehan signed up for a new job is pretty telling, even though he'll still be helping out with the Coleman camp. The reason is that Sheehan is the official co-plaintiff, along with Coleman, in the actual ongoing election lawsuit.

Norm himself got a consulting job months ago with the Republican Jewish Coalition, providing him with a source of income.

Roll Call reports that Rep. Charlie Melancon has confirmed that he is considering a Campaign for Senate in 2010 against incumbent Republican Sen. David Vitter -- the Christian Right champion whose career became mired in the D.C. Madam prostitution scandal two years ago.

"Many Louisianians have encouraged me to run for U.S. Senate next year," Melancon said in a statement. "I am discussing this opportunity with my wife and kids and will be making an announcement in the coming weeks."

Louisiana reporter John Maginnis reported earlier today that Melancon, a relatively conservative Democrat, had already told national Democratic officials that he would be running.

A Democratic source could not confirm whether or not Melancon will be getting in the race, but did say that "he'd be a very very strong candidate against Vitter."

The House voted 405-1 today for a resolution in support of the Iranian dissidents and condemning the ruling government. And the one man who opposed it was...Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).

Paul said in his floor speech that he was in "reluctant opposition" to the resolution -- that he of course condemns violence by governments against their citizens. On the other hand, he also doesn't think the American government should act as a judge of every country overseas, and pointed out that we don't condemn countries like Saudi Arabia or Egypt that don't even have real elections.

"It seems our criticism is selective and applied when there are political points to be made," Paul said. "I have admired President Obama's cautious approach to the situation in Iran and I would have preferred that we in the House had acted similarly."

Check out Paul's full floor statement, after the jump.

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Fox News has denied tipping off Sen. John Ensign after receiving that bizarre letter from Doug Hampton, in which Hampton asked for Fox anchor Megyn Kelly's help in exposing Ensign's affair with Hampton's wife Cynthia.

Tom Lowell, the senior producer of Kelly's show, has told the Huffington Post that a booker for the show did get Hampton's letter, via email, the day before Ensign went public about the affair. Lowell said a producer followed up with Hampton, but he seemed "evasive and not credible," so Fox didn't pursue it -- which, frankly, sounds reasonable.

But more importantly, Lowell said no one at Fox had let Ensign's camp know about the letter. "I categorically deny that we ever reached out to the senator in any way shape or form prior to him making his announcement," Lowell said.

So that still leaves a big mystery: Ensign has now said clearly that it was the threat to go to a TV news show that prompted him to go public. So how did Ensign know about that?

The bell has finally tolled for Allen Stanford.

Federal prosecutors today filed a criminal indictment against the billionaire Texan, as well as three other Stanford Financial Group executives and the former head of the Antiguan bank regulatory agency, charging them with helping to orchestrate a $7 billion Ponzi scheme.

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So as we told you earlier today, Senator John Ensign has now admitted that he helped Doug Hampton, the husband of the senator's girlfriend, find employment after both Hamptons left Ensign's office. Ensign's office pointed out that he has done the same thing "for many other staff members." That's almost certainly true -- it's hardly unusual.

But a close look at the timeline of l'affaire Ensign makes a few things clear:

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It may be saying something that of the two Senators from Oklahoma, Tom Coburn is the calm and open-minded one.

The Oklahoman reports that Coburn met yesterday with Sonia Sotomayor, and walked away form the meeting with an apparent friendly attitude, describing her as "a bright lady, very smart and well-coached." He added: "She's got the demeanor of a judge."

Coburn's co-Senator Jim Inhofe, meanwhile, turned down an invitation to meet with Sotomayor -- on the grounds that his mind is already made up to vote against her. "That was a foregone conclusion," Inhofe told the Tulsa World, noting that he'd already voted against her for the appeals court back in 1998. However, he also predicts that she will be "definitely confirmed."

A new Rasmussen poll suggests that the criticism of President Obama for not being tough enough on behalf of Iranian dissidents -- which has come mainly from the right -- is not the majority view among American likely voters, and is not even a full majority view among Republicans.

The question is pretty straightforward: "Has President Obama been too aggressive in supporting the reformers in Iran, not aggressive enough, or has his response been about right?"

The numbers: 43% about right, 35% not aggressive enough, and 9% too aggressive. The margin of error is ±3%.

From the pollster's analysis: "Democrats overwhelmingly view the president's response as about right while 49% of Republicans say he has not been aggressive enough. Voters not affiliated with either party are closely divided on the question."

OK, now the Ensign story is really getting good.

Yesterday we wrote about how Team Ensign is now saying that they went public about the affair because Doug Hampton, the husband of Ensign's girlfriend, was threatening to go to a TV news station about it. We asked whether Ensign was now walking back an earlier claim -- which seemed to come from his camp -- that Hampton had tried to extort him.

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The sex is looking like the least interesting aspect of the John Ensign story.

Ensign's camp has confirmed to the Associated Press that the Nevada senator helped Doug Hampton, his old friend and the husband of his girlfriend, to get a job after the affair ended and Hampton left Ensign's office.

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