TPM News

At the height of the pre-election Islamophobia hysteria centered around the "Ground Zero mosque"/Islamic interfaith community center, we told you about how an anti-Islam DVD that was sent to 28 million swing-state voters in 2008 was still helping to fuel that hysteria.

We also told you that making and sending all those DVDs cost the Clarion Fund, which made the movie, about $16 million -- all funded by one single, anonymous donor.

We still don't know for sure who that donor is and, because of IRS laws protecting the names of nonprofit donors, maybe we never will.

What we do know is this:

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A quick update on the ongoing House Dem leadership elections.

A source tells us that inside the caucus meeting moments ago, a motion authored by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) to hold a secret ballot vote on delaying the House leadership elections until December passed with a majority of votes. Though DeFazio hasn't expressed a preference for a Minority Leader, he is widely known to be opposed to Pelosi remaining in the top slot.

The secret ballot to delay the vote failed 129-68, according to Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA).

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor today to praise the idea of a bipartisan summit at the White House, even as reports indicate that Republicans rebuffed President Obama's plan to hold just such a meeting this week.

There will be plenty of time for bipartianship after the turkey is picked clean, McConnell said this morning.

"When we return from the Thanksgiving break, Republican and Democrat leaders will have the opportunity to discuss priorities with the President in a meeting at the White House," he said. "I'm looking forward to that meeting, and to the opportunity to share with the President, again, the areas where we agree."

McConnell said he and the president can find common ground on energy production (more nuclear power and more clean coal experiments) and growing jobs "through increased trade opportunities abroad."

But when's the best time to have that conversation? That's a point of contention.

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In an interview with The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz, Fox News president Roger Ailes has some new vitriol for the Obama administration.

Kicking off a laundry list of criticism, Ailes said, "The president has not been very successful. He just got kicked from Mumbai to South Korea, and he came home and attacked Republicans for it. He had to be told by the French and the Germans that his socialism was too far left for them to deal with."

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Three of the conservative Democrats who've been grousing about Nancy Pelosi's bid to lead the party in the 112th Congress are trying meekly to strip her of some of the perks that come with being top dog -- like making committee assignments.

In a letter circulated to Democratic members this morning ahead of the Dems' leadership elections, Reps. Larry Kissell (D-NC), Jim Matheson (D-UT), and Dan Lipinski (D-IL), are trying build support for stripping Pelosi of the powers that come with being minority leader.

"In light of the significant losses our party suffered earlier this month, we believe it is imperative that today's organizational meeting should provide all Members the opportunity to openly debate the rules that will be proposed for the 112th Congress and offer amendments that they believe would improve the ability of the Caucus to develop and message a Democratic agenda, recruit candidates, and return Democrats to the majority in 2012," they write.

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Conservative firebrand Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) leveled some heavy criticism today against the Obama administration about their handling of U.S. relations with Iran.

Bachmann, appearing at a panel hosted by a Freedom Watch USA, said that what is happening in Iran is taking place under the "permitting eye" of the State Department, which is led by Hillary Clinton.

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Sen. Lisa Murkowski said yesterday that she doesn't blame her felllow GOPers for throwing their weight behind the tea party-backed Joe Miller in the Alaska Senate race. "I knew that by running as a write-in candidate, I would not be my party's nominee," she said. "I could not expect that same level of support that other party nominees would have, and that's the simple reality of it." Murkowski launched her write-in campaign after losing to Miller in the Republican primary, and now looks poised to win as the state finishes counting the write-in ballots.

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Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) sent his colleagues a letter on Wednesday confirming that he is seeking the post of ranking member of the House Committee for Oversight and Government Reform.

Also in the running for the ranking member position is current House Oversight Committee Chairman Ed Towns (D-NY). Towns has faced criticism from fellow Democrats who don't think he would be a strong enough counterweight to Issa. The White House, however, has said they expect their relationship with Towns to continue. The Congressional Black Caucus would likely resist efforts to oust Towns, who is a member of the caucus.

Kucinich criticized Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the chairman-in-waiting of the Oversight Committee, for making what he called unsubstantiated claims about the Obama administration.

"Mr. Issa, through his eagerness to make unsubstantiated charges and to draw conclusions in advance of evidence, reveals a lack of restraint and basic fairness," Kucinich wrote. "This conduct in the Chairman of the Committee will degrade Congress' oversight credibility and undermine the institution of the House through a lack of restraint in the use of subpoena power."

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