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Bill Clinton had his saxophone. JFK was an avid sailor. FDR collected stamps. These days, President Barack Obama has made basketball the First Hobby. From pick-up games with White House staffers to appearances at Washington Wizards games, the President has found plenty of ways to partake in his favorite pastime, in between that whole "leading the free world" thing. Even his Cabinet is mostly made up of former players, something that caused President Obama to joke that he's put together "the best basketball-playing Cabinet in American history." Here, the President tries to block a shot while playing with Reggie Love at St. Bartholomew's Church in New York on September 23, during the UN General Assembly.

Official White House photo by Pete Souza

Then-Sen. Barack Obama gets a rebound during a game with U.S. military service members during his visit to Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, in August 2006.


President Obama takes a shot while playing with White House staffers during his vacation in Martha's Vineyard on August 26, 2009.

Official White House photo by Pete Souza

Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan plays "keep-away" with the President following their Oval Office meeting on July 28, 2009.

Official White House photo by Pete Souza

President Obama poses with gifts from the WNBA Champion Detroit Shock after welcoming the team to the White House on July 27, 2009.

Newscom/Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT

President Obama practices his moves after leaving a press conference with the WNBA Champion Detroit Shock.

Newscom/UPI Photos/Kevin Dietsch

The President plays with staffers at Camp David on July 18, 2009.

Official White House photo by Pete Souza

White House Butler Von Everett pumps up basketballs for the President on June 30, 2009.

Official White House photo by Pete Souza

President Obama receives a jersey from University of North Carolina Coach Roy Williams and his national champion Tar Heels on May 11, 2009.

Newscom/Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT

He shoots! He scores? Obama warms up before a game at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. on May 9, 2009.

Official White House photo by Pete Souza

The President blocks another player during the game at Fort McNair.

Official White House photo by Pete Souza

Obama and the 2009 NCAA women's basketball champion University of Connecticut Huskies play a spirited game of P-I-G on the White House court on April 27, 2009. The President won, though guard Renee Montgomery blamed her clothing on her loss -- "I couldn't extend my arms," she said. UConn coach Geno Auriemma called Obama's shot "unorthodox" but effective, and said that he had "swagger."

Newscom/Lawrence Jackson/SIPA Photos

The P-I-G loss didn't stop Renee Montgomery from giving a basketball and jersey to the President.

Newscom/Kevin Dietsch/UPI Photos

Before every election night, the President plays a game of basketball. Here, he plays a game of three-on-three in Kokomo, IN.

Jeff Malet/

The Easter egg roll event at the White House on April 13, 2009 also proved an occasion to shoot some hoops.

Newscom/Michael Reynolds/SIPA Photos

Enjoying the new South Lawn basketball court, President Barack Obama shoots from downtown.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama challenges the shot of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, a former professional basketball player in Australia.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama watches his favorite team, the Chicago Bulls, take on the Washington Wizards in D.C.'s Verizon Center. The President is being heckled by a passionate Wizards fan, as the Bulls lost that night. But the President's presence energized the game -- multiple Wizards players saluted the President after good plays.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Before the game, President Obama invited the Chicago Bulls to the White House. Veteran guard Lindsey Hunter said of the occasion: "He actually knew a couple of us -- me being one of the couple."

Newscom/Joyce H. Boghosian/SIPA Photos

Sasha Obama inherited the hoops gene. Here (in orange), she plays in a youth game in Washington D.C. on February 21 2009, cheered on by the President and First Lady.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

This photo from Punahou School's 1979 yearbook shows Obama on top right. Though Obama was a high school benchwarmer, he has said that the experience of not starting made him learn about "discipline, about handling disappointments, about being team-oriented and realizing that not everything is about you."


Here, Obama is shown scoring in 1979. The 1979 Punahou team won the state title, sent three players to D-I colleges, and according to Sports Illustrated's Alexander Wolff, is considered one of Hawaii's best high school basketball teams ever.


And the award for boldest denial in the face of evidence of financial mischief goes to ... Rep. Steve Buyer!

As we've been [reporting](, Buyer, Republican of Indiana, is closely affiliated with the Frontier Foundation, an organization that has taken in over $800,000 from industry groups who Buyer is in a position to help. Despite its stated mission, the foundation hasn't given out a single scholarship, but has [spent]( $258,136 over six years on salary, meals, travel, and "fundraising expenses."

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President Barack Obama said moments ago in an address in the Rose Garden that the Senate Finance Committee's 14-9 vote to pass a health care reform bill is "a critical milestone in our effort to reform our health care system."

"We are now closer than ever before to passing health reform," he said. "But we're not there yet. Now's not the time to pat ourselves on the back. Now's not the time to offer ourselves congratulations. Now's the time to dig in and work even harder to get this done."

Obama said of the bill: "It includes ideas from both Democrats and Republicans, which is why it enjoys the support of people from both parties. And I want to particularly thank Sen. Olympia Snowe for both the political courage and the seriousness of purpose that she's demonstrated throughout this process."

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There's no way around the fact that today's Senate Finance Committee vote was a major milestone in the five-month long health care reform saga. That much is not in doubt. But in a way, the outcome had been largely pre-determined, and the public focus--from pressure groups and pundits and reporters--has already turned to the next stage in the process: starting tomorrow, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, working with Finance chair Max Baucus, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), White House officials, and a handful of other people will begin the arduous and crucial task of merging the Senate's two competing bills.

That will likely be a crucial moment for the public option, and that means the story behind the story of the Finance bill's passage is still evolving. We learned today, in a moment of great political theatrics, that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) decided to support the Baucus bill. What we'll learn in the days and weeks ahead is what that decision means for the substance of the bill going forward.

Here's why it could have significant implications:

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Speaking to reporters today, Chris Christie dismissed the poll numbers that have shown his once-mighty lead over Jon Corzine -- and said that in fact, he feels better now than he did before.

"I feel better now than over the summer when I had a bigger lead," said Christie. "I knew the governor was going to spend a lot of money going after me, attacking me. And as much as he has, I should be dead by now, but here I am - still with a lead, and I feel better now than I have felt this entire race."

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The National Coalition on Health Care issued a press release this afternoon following the Senate Finance Committee's 14-9 vote to pass health insurance reform legislation out of committee. Here's the full text:

We applaud today's historic action by Chairman Max Baucus, Senator Snowe and the Senate Finance Committee but remain deeply concerned about the long term sustainability, coverage and affordability of the version of the reform bill voted out of the Finance Committee today.

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This afternoon, Fox News anchor Shep Smith told RNC chairman Michael Steele that his "talking point" on health care reform was "not really true."

Steele, arguing against a public option in any form, called the Democrats' plans for reform a "broad-based government grab for health care."

"Those are the talking points, but that's not really true. C'mon, Chairman Steele," Smith said.

Steele responded that he doesn't do talking points.

"I know what it ultimately means for my mother and for me," he said.

Video after the jump.

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Creigh Deeds is now raising money from yet another apparent Republican attack -- this time from none other than Rush Limbaugh, who declared yesterday that Deeds is a "mealy-mouthed idiot."

In a new fundraising e-mail, Deeds supporters are urged to "make a contribution and show Rush Limbaugh and our childish opponents that when they launch personal attacks on Creigh, they only embolden our resolve to keep Virginia moving forward."

Last week, of course, McDonnell supporter Sheila Johnson got in hot water for making fun of Deeds for stuttering. It's not clear whether Limbaugh's "mealy-mouthed" line was a reference to Deeds' speech, or whether it was simply a random insult.

Check out the full e-mail, after the jump.

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Service Employees International Union issued a press release this afternoon following the Senate Finance Committee's 14-9 vote to pass health insurance reform legislation out of committee. Here's the full text:

"Today, we stand on the brink of making history and giving every American the promise of health insurance reform that no longer leaves families at the mercy of an insurance industry driven by profits and greed," said Andy Stern, President of Service Employees International Union. "And, as we stand at this pivotal moment, we must ask: Will our Senators live up to the promise of reform they made to the American people or will they stand with an industry that has turned their backs on meaningful reform?

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In the least surprising development of the day, American Private Police Force has declined to answer the Montana attorney general's questions seeking information about its (supposed) business and (supposed) past clients.

Attorney General Steve Bullock sent a letter two weeks ago demanding the information, before the deal for APPF to run a jail in Hardin fell apart.

KTVQ in Billings reports:

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