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Rep. Joe Wilson's (R-SC) Democratic opponent, Iraq War veteran Rob Miller, has released this statement, thanking people for the hundreds of thousands of dollars he's received since Wilson's "You lie!" outburst:

Representative Joe Wilson's stunning behavior last night exemplifies all that is wrong in Washington DC. Time and time again, instead of real solutions to help South Carolina families, we see more partisan politics and petty name-calling.

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Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) of "You Lie!" fame wasn't the only GOPer to show President Obama something less than complete respect during last night's speech on health care before a joint session of Congress.

The Swamp reports that a few minutes before Obama's speech ended last night, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) stood up and walked out.

The Swamp explains that Shimkus' spokesman rationalized the walkout this way: "Congressman Shimkus was frustrated that the president was not offering any new ground and left with just minutes remaining in the speech."

Just as Sen. Lindsey Graham did earlier, Shimkus took issue with the President's tone, with his spokesman saying that "the tone did not bring Republicans on board."

I've heard of walking out of movies, but this...

A Democratic source sends over some numbers in the wake of President Obama's speech yesterday, and they should encourage his supporters.

After last night's speech, Obama's political arm, Organizing for America sent out an email to supporters asking them to declare their support for the "Obama Plan."

In the 18 hours since the speech, the source says, they've had 381,000 sign ups, and the number continues to rise at a consistent rate.

That may be a bit abstract, though, so the source notes that OFA--which exists under the umbrella of the Democratic National Committee--has raised $1.1 million since the speech, without including a fundraising request as part of the petition.

Polling data indicated that the speech was a hit with the public--and it seems as if its popularity translated into more quantifiable political momentum.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) tells me he thinks President Obama gave the cause of health reform "a big boost last night, but though he supports Obama's proposal, he does have a few concerns.

"I think it was very powerful and even more importantly very persuasive," Wyden told me. "Health care is such a complicated issue, and intensely personal and the way the President outlined it, it really served as a trampoline--a jump--to the next part of the debate which is on the Senate Finance Committee on which I serve."

On the specifics of the President's plan, Wyden laid out a small handful of issues he'd like to see improved. Specifically, and foremost, Wyden says, "the area that i would like to be bolder in is in this area of creating a market through choice and competition."

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RNC Chairman Michael Steele told the Washington Times that it was "bad form" for President Obama to talk about a letter he received from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), at last night's speech to Congress.

"I'm sorry, but I just felt a bit unnerved by it, in the sense he just passed," said Steele.

"His wife was still clearly emotional," Steele added. "I just thought that was bad form. We all understand and appreciate the role Sen. Kennedy has played in this debate and the passion he brought to health care. I just thought that was a little bit much for me, so soon after his death, using that as a political tool."

Steele seems to be under the impression that this was all a surprise to Vicki Kennedy -- that it was some kind of coincidence that she'd been invited to sit as a guest of Michelle Obama during a speech on one of her late husband's biggest political issues.

(Via Political Wire)

In another freewheeling performance in front of the cameras this afternoon, Mark Sanford accused state lawmakers of trying to railroad him out of office, and demanded that he be given a chance to present his "side of the story."

"It is not OK to short-circuit an ethics process to try and get the result that you want," said the beleaguered governor, referring to an ethics inquiry that's focused on his decision to leave the state in the lurch when he visited his Argentinean mistress, and his use of state aircraft.

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Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) gave an interview with WIS, the local NBC affiliate in Columbia, South Carolina, and expressed contrition for his "You lied!" outburst -- but he also said he's received a lot of support for it back home.

"Well, I have been overwhelmed by phone calls from constituents -- people of the Second District -- who say, 'Joe, thank you for speaking up for us,'" said Wilson. "'Thank you for your passion, for the people who you represent, because you understand the threat to the health care system -- the potential for rationing -- and we appreciate so much you speaking up for the people of the United States.'"

Congressional investigators have found yet another forged letter to a lawmaker -- purporting to be from a local group, but really sent by the DC astroturf lobbying firm Bonner & Associates on behalf of a coal industry client -- criticizing climate change legislation. That brings the known total to fourteen, sent to at least three different members of Congress.

The new letter is on the letterhead of an American Legion post in Rocky Mount, Virginia. Like many of the others, it was sent to Rep. Tom Perriello. It asks the Democratic congressman to "make sure the Waxman-Markey bill includes provisions to promote American energy independence, while protecting already cash-strapped constituents from increases in electricity prices." It concludes, "Thank you for listening to concerns of vets in your district."

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Maybe President Obama's health care speech yesterday did have an impact on Republicans. For instance, earlier this afternoon, Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) told MSNBC "of course there's common ground. There is plenty of common ground."

"In fact," he said, "I would venture to say that we agree on about 80% of the issues right now. It's just a matter of hashing out those few areas where we disagree, but there's really not been that kind of real discussion, and it needs to happen."

That's downright Obama-esque language right there.

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The Justice Department's internal ethics unit has opened an investigation into the decision to drop a voter intimidation complaint against members of the New Black Panther Party, the Washington Times reported yesterday.

In a letter sent late last month, Mary Patrice Brown, who runs DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility, told Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) that OPR had "initiated an inquiry into the matter."

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