TPM News

We knew there was another shoe waiting to drop in the story of Nevada GOP senator John Ensign's affair with a top aide's wife.

And now it's dropped. A lengthy investigation by the New York Times reveals that Ensign was far more involved than previously known in trying to get a job for Doug Hampton -- his mistress's husband -- after the affair had been discovered. And that Ensign then used his influence in government to try to do favors for Doug Hampton's new employers -- apparently in violation of lobbying rules.

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This article from the Las Vegas Review-Journal is making the rounds, and it seems at a glance like great news for reformers.

"We are going to have a public option before this bill goes to the president's desk," Reid said in a conference call with constituents, referring to some kind of government plan. "I believe the public option is so vitally important to create a level playing field and prevent the insurance companies from taking advantage of us," he said.

True enough, he did say that. But speaking to reporters today, he also said, "Remember, a public option is a relative term. There's a public option, there's a public option, and there's a public option, and we're going to look at each of them."

Things aren't always what they seem.

Late update: A Reid aid says, "Sen. Reid believes that health insurance reform must include a mechanism to keep insurers honest, create competition and keep costs down. He feels that the public option is the best way to do that. While we don't know exactly what that option will look like, Sen. Reid, working with President Obama, will ensure that whatever is included in the final bill does just that."

So there you have it.

One of the nice peculiarities of the Senate Finance Committee is that they base all of their deliberations on bills and amendments written in plain English. So if you want to see a version of Sen. Tom Carper's public option alternative, here it is.

It would allow states to pick one of the following three options:

1. Participate as grantees in the CO-OP program and apply for seed funding. 2. Open up that state's employee benefits plan. 3. Create a state administered health insurance plan with the option of banding together with other states to create a regional insurance compact.

And provide any seed money needed to accomplish the chosen goal, so long as it's deficit neutral. Wonder how the administration feels about this? So do I, and I'm trying to find out.

I'm also still unsure if and when this will be introduced, but I'll keep you posted.

The attack ads are flying in the Virginia gubernatorial race, with Democrat Creigh Deeds continuing to hammer Republican Bob McDonnell over his hard-right grad school thesis that attacked working women, and the GOP going after Deeds on taxes.

The new Deeds radio ad features a phone call between two sisters, talking about how one of them just had a good job interview:

Sister 1: Good benefits? You know Mom's gonna ask...

Sister 2: Pretty good! Health care includes mammograms, cancer screenings...and the salary is what men at my level make.

Sister 1: So basically nothing Bob McDonnell supports?

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Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) is changing pace slightly from his recent barrage of negative ads against Republican challenger Chris Christie, with a full minute-long ad extolling his own positives.

The polls have shown Christie's lead over Corzine narrowing, but it's come almost entirely from Christie losing support to the independent candidate or the undecided column -- Corzine has not been picking up new support. This ad could potentially work in that direction, now that he's loosened some voters from Christie.

At the same time as Corzine talks about his accomplishments in dealing with a trouble economy, he seems to subtly admit there have been some imperfections: "But there's more to do, it's a work in progress, and we have more to do to get our fiscal house in order. I think I can do that. I've learned a lot, I've done a lot."

With efforts to stop climate change back in the news, the Washington Post's George Will has re-started his efforts to bamboozle on the topic.

In a new column, Will denounces the "alarmists" on the issue, and, as if this were 1987, calls for "a national commission appointed to assess the evidence about climate change." Seriously.

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In case Rep. Alan Grayson's own statements weren't clear enough, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made it crystal: There will be no apology for his remarks on the House floor. Watch:

Grayson's fortitude in the face of GOP attacks and constant press attention have won great acclaim on the left. His campaign has raised over $100,000 in the past day alone.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) seems to be developing a one-track mind. At a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee, Bachmann asked Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke about...ACORN?

To be fair, Bachmann also asked about one of her other pet issues, the threat of a one-world currency replacing the dollar -- which does actually bear a relationship to the questions of monetary policy.

But here she has the man who runs our country's whole money supply, right in front of her and required to take her questions, and this is what she asks about?