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Rep. Ed Markey's investigation into those forged climate change letters continues apace. Today, he sent a letter to the coal industry group on whose behalf Bonner and Associates was working when it sent the letters, which urged members of Congress to oppose the recent climate change bill and purported to come from local black and Hispanic groups.

Markey's letter, sent to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, focuses in part on the delay in notifying members of Congress about the forged letters after they were discovered. He notes in a press release accompanying the letter:

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Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) was on the receiving end of some right-wingers disrupting a town hall meeting Monday night, the Napa Valley Register reports.

Speaking in a packed church, Thompson and other speakers were met by shouts of "This is America!" and "What's wrong with profit?" as they also tried to answer questions from supporters and critics in the audience.

The Napa Valley Register -- a conservative paper that endorsed John McCain last year -- now has a new editorial condemning the hecklers:

The display was unwelcome -- and unsuccessful if it was meant to move health care reform supporters toward considering the concerns of the critics. Several callers to the Register on Tuesday reported they were repulsed by the aggressive tactics of some members of the crowd.

To the degree the catcalls, chants and shouts were organized -- and it appears from events around the country that they were -- we strongly suggest that the organizers find more constructive ways to get their message out.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is not backing down from her campaign against the Census.

A group of GOP Congressmen came out against Bachmann a month ago for her criticism of the Census, but it's not stopping her. In a new interview with Accuracy in Media, she reiterated her vow to not fill out anything on the form except how many people are in her household:



Note how Bachmann is careful to say she is not encouraging other people to not fill out the Census -- she's simply stating what she and her family will be doing, and what is consistent with their own consciences.

There is an obvious objection to this disclaimer, of course: Monkey see, monkey do. However, Bachmann does not believe in evolution.

Remember how last week, in an episode of the much-derided web series Mouthpiece Theater, Washington Post reporters Dana Milbank and Chris Cillizza joked that "Mad Bitch" beer would be an appropriate beverage for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? Well, after TPMDC's initial report on the episode, the Post has killed the feature entirely.

"I don't think the series worked as they intended," said Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli. "It was meant to be funny and insightful and translate the superb journalism Chris and Dana do in print and online into a new format."

But...it wasn't. The Clinton joke, he said, was "a serious lapse. . . . It's really beneath us and not something we should engage in." After the Clinton firestorm, the Post pulled that episode off its website. Apparently, though, the controversy led to a wider discussion about the merits of the feature itself, and the Post decided enough was enough.

"We'd hoped the self-deprecating humor of me and the irreverent humor of Dana would combine to make something funny and interesting and on the news. It wound up not working," said Cillizza. "Ultimately it wasn't funny."

And, he says, he'll apologize for it. "[The joke] was inappropriate, over the line and highlighted the broader problems with the show. I'm personally apologizing on The Fix. It's not consistent with the Post brand, but more important to me, it's not consistent with the Fix brand I've worked to cultivate -- insider, straight-dope journalism that tries to shoot down the middle."

Milbank isn't done joking, though. "I regret that we put up that image," Milbank told Howard Kurtz, "and while I highly doubt the secretary of state has seen 'Mouthpiece Theater,' I would be honored to have the opportunity to apologize to her over a beer."

Late update: A classy post on the controversy from Chris Cillizza.

It looks like Express Scripts isn't the only company that's pressing its employees to take action in opposition to health-care reform.

Last month, as the Post Standard of Syracuse, New York reports, David Klein, CEO of the health insurer Excellus BlueCross BlueShield emailed employees to ask them to fill out postcards to New York's senators, urging them to oppose the creation of a public option.

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In a yet to air interview, President Obama obliquely puts Senate Finance Committee Republicans on notice that, though their efforts at bipartisanship are appreciated, they'd better bear fruit soon.



"I am glad that in the Senate Finance Committee, there have been a couple of Republicans--Chuck Grassley, Mike Enzi, Olympia Snowe--who have been willing to negotiate with Democrats to try to produce a bill. But they haven't yet. And I think at some point, sometime in September, we're just going to have to make an assessment."

That won't please Enzi, who insists he's committed to no deadline whatsoever. But at least he can't say Democrats didn't warn him.

House Minority Leader John Boehner hasn't shied away from embracing the men and women disrupting member town halls--and he's not about to.

"Just a few days into the August break, House Democrats are learning exactly what Boehner meant," reads a new 'Leader Alert.' "Americans are showing genuine concern about the cost and consequences of a government-run health care plan for families and small businesses."

Additionally--and this is an under-reported theme--Boehner makes it clear that a major part of the GOP's strategy is to court the elderly, who've shown greater opposition to reform efforts (and who, ironically, are in the privileged position of already enjoying government run health care).

USA Today reports that seniors are especially wary of a government takeover of health care, which Democrats want to bankroll with massive cuts to Medicare, noting, "It has raised concerns among some seniors who might have to pay more for the program or enroll in regular Medicare instead. A Gallup Poll last week found 20% of Americans over 65 say an overhaul will improve their health care - the lowest showing of three age groups."

Check out this YouTube of Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH) being ambushed by a Tea Party crowd at his town hall from two days ago, and how they reacted when he committed an unpardonable sin -- criticizing Reagan!

At the 2:30 mark here, a woman got up and made the extraordinary claim that Reagan tripled federal tax revenues by cutting the top marginal rate from 70% down to 28%:



After the cheering calmed down a bit, Driehaus pointed out: "What we saw is also a tremendous increase in the deficit." Apparently, the crowd then began yelling back that no, Reagan did not increase the deficit.

As you can see, the crowd also chanted "Vote for Chabot!" as Driehaus left -- a reference to the former Republican Congressman that Driehaus unseated in 2008, and who is now mounting a comeback bid.

Note: Tax revenues did not triple under Reagan -- the most generous method of counting, without taking into account population increases and inflation, is 80%. Driehaus could have stated that, but look at how badly the crowd reacted to the Reagan-deficit link.

In the last couple weeks, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)--who's been shut out of the bipartisan health care negotiations in the Senate Finance Committee--has been critical of the legislation taking shape behind closed doors. But today, he issued a strong criticism of the entire process--the "gang of six," and by association, of chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), who's insisted on staying this course.

"All the attention is going to those three Republicans ... you just watch as this bill diminishes," Rockefeller said at a Wednesday press event, according to Politico. "Those three won't be there when the bill passes."

He's talking about ranking member Chuck Grassley (D-IA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and conservative Mike Enzi (R-WY), who's perhaps most responsible for slowing down the process and weakening the bill. Rockefeller says their participation is basically a ploy--and that, by insisting on their support, Baucus is selling out the cause of reform.

"Everything depends on six people, three Republicans and three Democrats," Rockefeller said, "and what happens is the bill gets weaker and weaker and weaker."

Rockefeller is one of the leading voices for health care reform in the Senate--and one of the only people on the crucial Finance Committee who supports a robust bill.

Moments ago, House Democrats concluded a caucus conference call to discuss, among other things, strategy for dealing with the new, potentially hostile, environments at town halls in their districts. I'll fill in the blanks with more info as it becomes available, but the long and short of it is that--astroturf or not--the news early this week served as a wake up call to Democrats, and over the last 24 hours or so they've been coalescing around a strategy for managing their events, and advancing their recess message, with or without interruptions.

Late update: On the call, Democrats agreed to push ahead with August plans and messages. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) recounted his run-in with rowdy protesters to prepare members who haven't been accosted for what to expect and how to react.

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