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Bonner and Associates was working on behalf of the coal industry when it sent forged letters -- purporting to come from local Hispanic and black groups -- to a member of Congress, urging him to oppose the recent climate change bill.

Bonner's client was the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a top coal-industry advocacy group, reports Greenwire, the environmental and energy news service. And a total of twelve letters went not just to Rep. Tom Perriello of Virginia, but also to two other Democrats, Reps. Kathy Dahlkemper and Chris Carney, both of Pennsylvania.

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A new survey of Virginia from Public Policy Polling (D) finds Republican former state Attorney General Bob McDonnell with a big lead over Democratic state Sen. Creigh Deeds -- with GOPers currently a lot more motivated to be likely voters right now.

The numbers: McDonnell 51%, Deeds 37%. A key number: 52% of respondents voted for John McCain last years, compared to 41% who say they voted for Obama -- even though Obama carried the state by 53%-47%. This is fully consistent with last week's SurveyUSA poll, which put McDonnell ahead by 55%-40% on a sample that McCain carried by 52%-43%. (Numbers on this question never add up to 100, because some respondents won't divulge how they voted.)

From the pollster's analysis: "It's not that voters are changing sides from last fall- the 5% of John McCain's voters planning to vote for Deeds is actually equal to the 5% of Barack Obama's voters planning to vote for McDonnell. But Republicans, on a losing streak in Virginia, appear to be more motivated about heading to the polls at this point three months before the election."

So the big question for Deeds, then, is whether he can energize all those Democratic-leaning people who aren't likely to vote now, and turn them into participants in future polls -- especially that one in November.

Watch Rachel Maddow's segment on the tea party/anti-health care reform protesters.

Gives you a pretty good sense of what these disruptions are like--what features they share in common. It's hard to know how many member town halls will be (or have been) similarly disrupted, but that's only one of the goals of the protesters. Another goal is to create a narrative in the media about the organic rise of a populist anti-reform backlash; and the jury's still out on whether that effort will succeed.

The White House is now directly taking on Matt Drudge, who hyped a YouTube using edited clips of Obama appearing to say he wanted to eventually disestablish private health insurance.

Here's the new video from Linda Douglass, the White House spokesperson on health care, saying that other videos give a greater context to Obama's policy, with him saying quite the opposite:

"You know, the people who always try to scare people whenever you try to bring them health insurance reform, are at it again," said Douglass. "And they're taking sentences and phrases out of context, and cobbling them together to leave a false impression."

Senate To Take Up Sotomayor Confirmation The full Senate is set to begin debating the Sonia Sotomayor nomination today, with a final vote as early as Thursday. Sotomayor is on track to win confirmation by a comfortable margin, with all or nearly all Democrats plus a few Republicans supporting her.

Obama's Birthday Ahead Today is President Obama's 48th birthday -- but in terms of his schedule, it's a regular work day at the White House. Obama will meet at 11:05 a.m. ET with Dave Rehbein, the National Commander of the American Legion. At 12 p.m. ET, he and Vice President Biden will have lunch with the Senate Democratic Caucus. Obama will meet with Biden at 3:45 p.m. ET, and with Sec. of Defense Robert Gates at 4:30 p.m. ET.

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It's official! (No, really! It is!)

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) will make a bid for the Senate, challenging Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) in the 2010 Pennsylvania primary. Obviously, he's been working up to this morning's announcement for months, but it comes just weeks after his political campaign announced an impressive fundraising haul in the second quarter, allowing them to present what they believe will be a viable challenge to Specter, who will enjoy name recognition, and the backing of the Democratic party, but who became a Democrat just a few months ago after spending most of his career in the GOP.

Last week, after admitting that his failing health care negotiations won't produce reform legislation in the Senate Finance Committee before August recess, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) erected a new deadline--September 15--and now, he says, he'll produce a bill with or without Republicans.

That bill may have to be written "without Republicans."

"I have not and will not agree to an artificial deadline because I am committed to getting healthcare reform right, not finishing a bill by some arbitrary date," said Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) in a statement today. Enzi's one of six key Finance Committee negotiators hashing out a consensus bill. He's also a deeply conservative Republican, under pressure from leaders in his party to slow down or kill discussions--and he appears to be doing a bang-up job.

These teabaggers disrupting congressional town halls is just a spontaneous groundswell of populist opposition to health care reform, right? Riiiight.

On Friday, July 24, a representative of Conservatives for Patients Rights--the anti-health care reform group run by disgraced hospital executive Rick Scott, in conjunction with the message men behind the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth--sent an email to a list serve (called the Tea Party Patriots Health Care Reform Committee) containing a spreadsheet that lists over one hundred congressional town halls from late July into September.

The email from CPR to tea baggers suggests that, though conservatives portray the tea bagger disruptions as symptoms of a populist rebellion roiling unprompted through key districts around the country, they have to a great extent been orchestrated by anti-health care reform groups financed by industry. (CPR did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

That email predates by about a week a recent flurry of events at which Democratic members of Congress have been accosted and harassed by anti-health care reform tea party protesters. But beyond putting those spectacles, now receiving wide play on cable news, into a fresh light, it also provides a window into the tea party protesters' organizing infrastructure, which, like so much political organizing today, occurs in private email list serves.

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Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) has this new TV ad, featuring a rousing endorsement from President Obama at a rally from a couple weeks ago:

Corzine has been trailing his Republican opponent, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, in all the polls. But Corzine is clearly aiming to tap into this state's fundamentally Democratic leanings, and to leverage Obama's popularity towards getting his positive pitch across.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs released the following statement this afternoon, announcing the upcoming visit of Egyptian President Mubarak to the White House:

President Obama will welcome President Mubarak of Egypt to the White House on August 18th. The President looks forward to building on his discussions with President Mubarak during his visit to Cairo on June 4th. The two leaders will discuss the full range of issues of common concern - including Middle East peace, combating extremism and other regional threats, and promoting reform across the Arab world - as well as how to strengthen the bilateral relationship.

See photos of Obama's trip to Egypt here.