TPM News

Sharron Angle, the Republican nominee in Nevada against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has now taken a very politically curious step -- opposing the $20 billion escrow fund that BP negotiated with the Obama administration, calling it a "slush fund."

Greg Sargent reports that Angle appeared on a local radio show, where a caller bashed the escrow fund as "extortion" and a "slush fund." Angle then agreed: "Government shouldn't be doing that to a private company. And I think you named it clearly: It's a slush fund." She further added: "They're actually using this crisis if you will, because they never waste one -- Saul Alinsky's rules for radicals -- they are using this crisis now to get in cap and trade, and every crime and penalty, and slush fund." Click here to listen to the audio.

This puts Angle in the company of Republicans like Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who apologized to BP for the creation of the fund -- and in his case, Barton was forced by the GOP leadership to retract his statements.

The TPM Poll Average gives Angle a lead of 46.0%-40.8%.

Republican Rob Portman is sitting pretty at the end of second quarter fundraising in the Ohio Senate race. The former Congressman and Bush Administration official hauled in $2.65 million between April and June, bringing his total cash on hand to an impressive $8.8 million in the race against Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, the Democratic nominee.

Fisher has not released his fundraising numbers yet, but Portman's figures show that the Republicans are more than ready to play for the open Ohio seat.

The race is sure to be one of the most competitive of the cycle, and it's still either party's to win. The TPM Poll Average shows the race to be a dead heat, with Fisher drawing 42.5% of the vote to Portman's 41.4%

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has been hammering his primary challenger, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, over Hayworth's involvement in a 2007 informercial promoting highly questionable seminars for "free money" in government grants. Now McCain's own ethics are being questioned -- by "free money" pitchman Matthew Lesko, who says McCain violated copyright laws by using Lesko's image in an attack on Hayworth.

The Mccain campaign posted a Web video likening Hayworth to various late-night infomercial pitchmen, including clips of Lesko in his signature Riddler suit-jacket among others. (Note: The company Hayworth worked for was not associated with Lesko.) Lesko then told the Associated Press that he was not ruling out suing McCain for copyright infringement. "I'm amazed that these people just do things without requesting. I would've said yes," Lesko said. "I'm just shocked at the impoliteness that people do this stuff. There's no remorse."

Lesko also posted on Twitter: "John McCain's team didn't ask permission to use my commercial footage in their ad.. I'm flabbergasted." He followed that up with another post: "All might be fair in love and war, even AZ politics, but not with violated copyright laws."

We asked McCain spokesman Brian Rogers for comment on Lesko's statement about "violated copyright laws." "Our web ad is obviously political speech, and our lawyers advise us that its fleeting image of Mr. Lesko to make a political point is 'fair use' under the intellectual property laws," said Rogers.

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Stephen Colbert said last night that The Economist didn't go far enough when photoshopping its "Barack Obama in the Gulf" cover. The magazine had taken a picture of the President examining the damage done by the BP oil spill, and edited out the president of a Louisiana parish to make Obama seem more broken and alone.

"I don't know what the big surprise is," Colbert said. "Louisianans should be used to being invisible by now."

But, he added, The Economist could have used the cover to "really drive home the point that Obama is a coast-destroying failure," by adding "Obama kicking a sea turtle."

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The good news for Rep. Kendrick Meek? His fundraising prowess has not dropped off in the face of lagging poll numbers and a tough primary challenge. The bad news? That leaves him pretty much where he was before -- namely, a distant third in the Florida Senate race.

Meek raised $1.1 million in the last fundraising quarter, essentially matching the amount he hauled in in the first quarter. This despite lousy poll numbers, a surprise primary and an independent -- Gov. Charlie Crist -- who's doing his best to appeal to Democratic voters.

The Meek campaign says the numbers are a sign that rumors of Meek's demise are greatly exaggerated.

"Momentum Growing for the Only Real Democrat in U.S. Senate Race," the campaign declared in a release announcing the numbers this morning.

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Jon Stewart watched in awe last night as the gang at Fox News slammed President Barack Obama for what Stewart called their fear of "Muslims in space."

As TPM previously reported, conservatives have been fear-mongering about a new initiative in the space program to promote outreach to Muslim nations.

"What kind of presidential asshole would use the space program to build a bridge to peace?" Stewart asked, before showing a clip of President Ronald Reagan talking about using the space program to work with the Soviet Union.

"Liberal fartbag," said Stewart. "That guy had a pre-Cold War mentality when it came to NASA."

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Former Florida GOP chair Jim Greer is, as you know, in legal hot water for allegedly using a shell company to skim money from the party -- charges to which he pleaded not guilty last week. But he's also suing the Republican Party of Florida, demanding the severance package he says was promised to him when the party ousted him in January.

Greer was pushed out in January, as the party tried to scrub its image in the wake of reports of lavish spending. Party officials negotiated a severance package with Greer. According to Greer, that agreement is a binding contract. But according to the party, the agreement was never finalized and is null and void.

The severance package offered Greer 11 months of consulting fees totaling $123,750, close to his annual salary of $130,000, plus health benefits.

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The new Rasmussen poll of the Florida Senate race shows Republican Marco Rubio taking a narrow lead in this crazy three-way race.

In a match-up against former Republican and now-independent Gov. Charlie Crist and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek, Rubio has 36%, Crist 34%, and Meek 15%. With businessman Jeff Greene as the Democratic nominee, Rubio has 37%, Crist 33%, and Greene 18%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4.5%. In the previous poll from a month ago, Rubio and Crist were tied at 37%-37% with Meek at 15%, and a race with Greene had Crist taking 41%, Rubio 37%, and Greene 13%.

The TPM Poll Average gives Crist 37.4%, Rubio 35.2%, and Meek 13.6%. In a race with Greene, Crist has 38%, Rubio 35.7%, and Greene 15.0%.

Obama Hitting The Campaign Trail The Washington Post reports on President Obama's campaign swing today to Missouri and Nevada: "The country's Democrat-in-chief plans to road-test a midterm election message: that the country can achieve Wall Street reform and a curb on corporate interests only if it elects -- or reelects -- lawmakers from his party...'Expect to hear a lot about reforming Washington,' one Democratic strategist involved in the races said."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will depart from the White House at 10:15 a.m. ET, and from Andrews Air Force Base at 10:30 a.m. ET, arriving at 12:55 p.m. ET in Kansas City, Missouri. He will tour Smith Electric Vehicles at 1:10 p.m. ET, and deliver remarks on the economy at 1:30 p.m. ET. He will then deliver remarks at a 3:05 p.m. ET fundraiser for Senate candidate Robin Carnahan, and he will also deliver remarks at a 3:45 p.m. ET grassroots event for Carnahan. He will depart from Kansas City at 5:25 p.m. ET, arriving at 8 p.m. ET in Las Vegas, Nevada. He will deliver remarks at a 9:15 p.m. ET fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and will attend a 10:30 p.m. ET fundraising dinner for Reid.

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One month after capturing the Republican nod to challenge Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), former Hewlett Packard executive Carly Fiorina (R) is closing in on her rival. A new Field Poll of 1,390 registered California voters conducted from June 22 through July 5 shows Boxer at 47 and Fiorina at 44.

The news comes as Vice President Joe Biden prepares to headline a fundraiser for Boxer tonight in swanky Atherton near Palo Alto.

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