TPM News

American geologists who assessed Afghanistan's mineral deposits realized the potentially vast economic benefits of the minerals as far back as 2007, according to U.S. Geological Survey documents from that time.

The New York Times story this morning reporting the "discovery" in Afghanistan of a $1 trillion trove of minerals like lithium has already been the focus of plenty of scrutiny from journalists questioning how new this discovery, which was presented by the Obama Administration as a potential game-changer, really is.

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Alvin Greene, as you probably know, didn't do any campaigning before getting nearly 60% of the vote in the South Carolina Democratic primary for Senate. He didn't have yard signs or a web site, and he didn't attend the state party's big political events, including the convention and the Galivants Ferry Stump.

His opponent, Vic Rawl, did campaign, and now he's alleging possible wrongdoing in the primary and protesting the results.

But something that's been all but ignored over the past week is the fact that, for all his campaigning, Rawl had no more name recognition than Greene.

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South Carolina Judge Vic Rawl -- who was beaten badly by the unheard of Alvin Greene in last week's South Carolina Democratic Senate primary -- announced today that he's filed a protest of the election results with the state party.

"We have filed this protest not for my personal or political gain, but on behalf of the people of South Carolina," Rawl said in the statement. "There is a cloud over Tuesday's election. There is a cloud over South Carolina, that affects all of our people, Democrats and Republicans, white and African-American alike."

Since Greene's surprising victory last week, the unemployed Army vet has made the cable news rounds -- and has come across as thoroughly not ready for prime time. Watch the highlights. Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) has gone so far as to suggest that Greene may be a "plant."

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Looks like newly chosen GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle (R-NV) has learned a lesson from other candidates whose introduction to the national press was less-than-friendly. She won the nomination Tuesday, and this morning made Fox and Friends her first national television appearance. She'll follow that up with an interview with Fox's Sean Hannity.

Angle's Fox experience this morning wasn't exactly combative, and allowed Angle to bash rival Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid by saying he's operating with a "radical playbook." The other national press she's done? Laura Ingraham's radio show on Thursday, Heidi Harris, Lars Larson (who had endorsed her candidacy), Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh. You get the idea.

On Fox today, Angle told the hosts she's "been appealing to the whole nation" and touted her Web site to ask people to give her donations. Winning "must be such an experience for you," host Gretchen Carlson gushed.

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The Republican plan to stick BP with the full cost of the Gulf oil spill lacks the teeth to actually make BP pay for the damages caused by the worst spill in U.S. history, according to Democrats and experts on offshore drilling law who spoke with TPM.

Until House Minority Leader John Boehner went on the record this weekend in support of lifting the $75 million cap on BP's liability for damages caused by the catastrophe, he and his party for weeks had opposed Democratic efforts to retroactively and permanently lift that cap so that BP ponies up for this spill and so that damages from future spills are the full responsibility of the oil companies that cause them.

Last week, as controversy over the GOP's position on BP raged, Boehner's office suggested to me that a better way to hold the oil giant accountable for the current spill would be to pass legislation sponsored by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) who proposes lifting the cap on BP, but leaving the $75 million cap in place -- punting for now on the question of what to do about future spills.

The big problem: Democrats and experts say it won't work.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) often denies having any immediate ambitions for higher office, but her campaign apparently mixed up exactly what she's running for this year.

Associated Press reporter Martiga Lohn tweeted on Saturday that upon signing up at Bachmann's House campaign website, she received a confirmation message from "Bachmann for Senate." Lohn then followed up with comment from Bachmann's campaign manager, who said that it was a typo.

If Bachmann were to run for the Senate, this begs the question as to when she would do it. Would it be at the next Minnesota Senate election in 2012, against the very popular Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar? Or might it be in 2014, against that great bogeyman of Republicans everywhere, Sen. Al Franken?

(Via Minnesota Independent.)

Rick Barber, an Alabama tea partier running for Congress in the Second District Republican run-off, told me this morning that his controversial new television ad -- which features images of pistols, calls for impeachment and a founding father calling on conservatives to "gather" their "armies" against the IRS -- is being misunderstood by critics.

"They need to not look so deep into things," Barber told me when I asked about his response to people who might say the ad might suggest he's calling for an actual revolution rather than an electoral one. "It's definitely not an inciteful call to arms."

Barber said that using the phrase "gather your armies" and stroking revolutionary-era pistols could lead some to get the wrong impression of his message -- but there's nothing that can be done about that.

"You've always got some folks that could take it the wrong way," he said.

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