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At least one potential Republican presidential candidate is squarely taking Gen. Stanley McChrystal's side, saying that President Obama should not have sacked the general and should have instead taken responsibility for the insults coming from the general and his top aides.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) told the Quad-City Times in Iowa that McChrystal's comments did not merit replacing him. Santorum said that if he had been president in that situation, he would have felt "chastened" that his hand-picked general had said such things. "I would think, you know, I bear some of the responsibility and I would act differently," said Santorum.

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The State reports today that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division -- a state agency with subpoena power -- is investigating Senate candidate Alvin Greene's finances.

Investigators will focus on how Greene, an unemployed veteran, came up with the $10,440 filing fee to run for the office. Greene won the Democratic nomination earlier this month without campaigning.

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In fairness, Barack Obama never said he wanted to quit Blackwater. But it's still notable that the troubled firm made famous by helping to fight George W. Bush's wars has become a permanent part of the U.S. foreign policy tableau, with news of two big contracts issued to the firm by the Obama Administration in recent weeks.

CIA chief Leon Panetta, whose agency's $100 million contract with Blackwater for security in Afghanistan was recently revealed, explained on ABC Sunday (emphasis ours):

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The legal and political situation surrounding the Senate seat formerly held by the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) remains murky for now. West Virginia's governor will undoubtedly appoint Byrd's replacement. But it remains unclear whether that successor will serve the full remainder of Byrd's term through 2012, or whether a special election will also be held this year.

State law provides for an appointment in any case. If the vacancy occurs with less than two years and six months in the term (the key date being this coming July 3), then the law doesn't require any further special election until Byrd's term would have come up anyway, at the regular election in 2012. With a vacancy of more than two years and six months, the law calls for a special election, with a temporary appointment.

But when does a vacancy officially occur? Is it when Byrd died last night? Upon the state officially declaring a vacancy? Or the Senate officially declaring a vacancy? So far, no definite answers have been revealed.

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In a bid to keep pace with House Republicans, Democrats are sending supporters a fundraising letter from former Vice President Al Gore, who's been under media scrutiny for several days after the National Enquirer brought to light an allegation, first raised last year, that Gore sexually assaulted a hotel masseuse in 2006.

"After eight years of the Bush-Cheney administration, America is now beset with major challenges: A massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, an economic downturn that has put good people out of work, and a crisis that I have dedicated my life to solving -- global warming," the DCCC letter reads. "And yet, Republicans are asking for another turn at the wheel."

I've confirmed the authenticity of the letter, and am told that Gore signed off on it, making it in essence his first public statement since the allegations were disclosed. Of course, it's common for both Democrats and Republicans to use surrogates in fundraising pitches, and Gore no doubt still enjoys a great deal of support among Democratic voters. And obviously Gore hasn't been charged with, tried for, or convicted of anything. But it's hard to deny that the recent news makes him a lightning rod.

You can read the entire email below the fold.

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The Tea Party-backed candidate for the Republican nomination in the Dem-held AL-02 district is up with a new ad in which he declares that the modern system of taxation and social safety nets is a form of "slavery" -- and he is using an Abraham Lincoln impersonator to back him up.

Rick Barber's new ad follows up from his previous spot, in which Barber promised to seek President Obama's impeachment, and a George Washington impersonator told viewers to "gather your armies" against the tyranny of the Obama administration.

"Hey Abe," Barber asks. "If someone is forced to work for months to pay taxes so that a total stranger can get a free meal, medical procedure or a bailout, what's that called? What's it called when one man is forced to work for another?"

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1||June 28, 2010: Sen. Robert Byrd dies at age 92, after serving in the Senate for more than 50 years. Byrd was the longest serving member in congressional history.

Here, Byrd stands outside the Capitol building as a freshman senator in 1959. ||Newscom/RollCall&&

2||1953: President Dwight D. Eisenhower greets Byrd, third from the left in the front row, and other freshman members of the House at the White House. ||Newscom/RollCall&&

3||1970s: Sen. Byrd meets with President Gerald Ford.||Wikimedia Commons&&

4||January 4, 1985: President Ronald Reagan confers with Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole (R-KS), and Senate Minority Leader Byrd during a meeting with a bipartisan group of Congressional Leaders in the Cabinet Room at the White House. ||Newscom/CNP&&

5||November, 1983: Sen. Howard Baker (R-TN), Speaker of the House Tip O'Neil (D-MA), Ford, former President Jimmy Carter, Byrd, and Rep. Robert Michel (R-IL). ||Newscom/Zuma&&

6||October 7, 1979: Byrd meets with Pope John Paul II at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.||Newscom/RollCall&&

7||November 17, 1994: Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) and Byrd.||Newscom/RollCall&&

8||1967: Byrd at a hearing.||Newscom/RollCall&&

9||May 24, 1988: President Reagan meets with Byrd, to his left, and other congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House. Also attending the meeting (from left) are: Michel; House Speaker Jim Wright (D-TX); Dole; and Senator Alan Cranston (D-CA).||Newscom/White House-CNP/PHOTOlink&&

10||1987: Byrd poses with his wife, Erma Ora Byrd, left, and an actress portraying Snow White at the International Cooking Demonstration at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. Byrd's wife died on March 25, 2006.||Newscom/RollCall&&

11||April 12, 2007: Byrd appears with Al Cecere, president and CEO of the American Eagle Foundation, and Challenger the Eagle at a news conference announcing a resolution to name June 20, 2007 as "American Eagle Day."||Newscom/RollCall&&

12||December 1980: Byrd speaks at the Democratic National Convention. ||Newscom/Zuma&&

13||September 25, 2007: Byrd poses next to his portrait after an unveiling ceremony at the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill.||Newscom/UPI&&

14||November 25, 1987.||Newscom/Zuma&&

15||May 7, 2002: Byrd shakes hands with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld before a hearing on homeland security. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) and ranking Republican Ted Stevens (R-AK) look on. ||Newscom/CQ&&

16||Robert L. Loughhead, President of Weirton Steel Corp.; Byrd; Sen. Jennings Randolph; and Howard M. Love, Chairman and CEO of National Intergroup Inc., attend a press conference on Weirton Steel Corp. being signed over to its employees.||Newscom/Zuma&&

17||November 4, 2000: Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Byrd support Vice President Al Gore at a presidential campaign rally at the airport in Huntington, West Virginia.||Newscom/Zuma&&

18||January 20, 2009: President Barack Obama, Byrd, Vicki Kennedy and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) during the inaugural luncheon in Statuary Hall at the Capitol.||Newscom/White House via CNP&&

19||May 23, 2006: Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) is joined by former First Lady Nancy Reagan, Byrd, and President George W. Bush at a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony honoring the Reagans.||Newscom/Zunique&&

20||June 26, 1990: Speaker of the House Tom Foley (D-WA) and Byrd applaud Nelson Mandela, leader of the African National Congress (ANC), as he addresses a Joint Session of Congress.||Newscom/CNP&&

21||February 2, 2004: Kennedy and Byrd talk during a hearing on the status of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. ||Newscom/RollCall&&

22||September 6, 2005: Byrd looks at a portrait of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist after filing past Rehnquist's casket in the Great Hall of the U.S. Supreme Court Building. Rehnquist died at age 80 after a battle with thyroid cancer. ||Newscom/Zuma&&

23||June 25, 1998: Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), Byrd, and Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) during a press conference on a Supreme Court ruling regarding line item vetoes. ||Newscom/CQ&&

24|| ||Newscom/RollCall&&

25||February 26, 2009: Byrd arrives on Capitol Hill. ||Newscom/UPI&&

26||December 1979.||Newscom/Zuma&&

27||October 17, 2007: Byrd looks on as the Dalai Lama is presented with the Congressional Gold Medal by President Bush.||Newscom/CNP&&

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