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Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate in the NY-23 special election, has picked up another endorsement from a prominent Republican, Texas Gov. Rick Perry:

"There is a reason that our party lost power in Washington DC. A lot of folks went to Congress wearing the Republican jersey, but far too many played the game like Democrats. People around Texas -- and frankly, all around the country -- are fed up with the federal government."

Endorsing Hoffman, stead of the moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava, has now become something of a litmus test for true-believing conservatism. It should be noted, of course, that Perry is facing a challenge in the Republican primary in 2010, from U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. And Perry has also been endorsed by Sarah Palin -- who has also endorsed Hoffman.

A Bush administration official on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which oversees the safety of nuclear sites, is facing a criminal probe after an internal NRC report concluded that he broke ethics rules by approaching companies with business before the agency, and inquiring about employment.

Before his term expired in mid 2007, Jeffrey Merrifield contacted the Shaw Group, Westinghouse, and G.E. about jobs. Twice, he voted on issues that could have affected the financial fortunes of those companies, according to the report by the NRC's inspector general. The case has been referred to the Justice Department.

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House Republicans today launched a new "communications tool" that House Minority Whip Eric Cantor and Deputy Whip Kevin McCarthy say will help them distribute up-to-the-minute information.

The BlackBerry application is called WhipCast and it's designed to give "instantaneous alerts, audio updates, video features, and additional messages to users."

TPMDC has downloaded the app and it's an icon designed to look like a flag - a silver star on a blue circle over a red- and-white striped square.

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In a shocking poll result, a new Pew survey finds that Fox News is viewed as being the most ideologically oriented of the big three cable news channels.

Fox is viewed as being conservative by 47% of Americans, as liberal by 14% (Who are these people???), and as being neither by 24%. CNN is viewed as conservative by 11%, liberal by 37%, and neither by 33%. MSNBC is seen as conservative by 11% (Again: Who are these people???), liberal by 36%, and neither by 27%.

The poll also finds that the view of Fox as being conservative is shared across groups of people who watch different networks. However, people who watch Fox are more likely to view the other networks as being liberal.

Michael Hilton, the shadowy figure behind the unsuccessful attempt to take over a rural Montana prison, failed to show in a California court Thursday in an unrelated years-old case about duping investors in an elder care home that was never built. A bench warrant has been issued. This from the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Captain" Michael Hilton first appeared on our radar when his private security firm, American Police Force, struck a deal to turn a 464-bed jail in Hardin, Montana, into a law enforcement training facility for operations as elaborate as defending cruise ships. The contract has since been canceled but Hilton apparently is still on the lam.

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With polls showing moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava in third place in the NY-23 special election, behind Democrat Bill Owens and Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, she may have to deal with a label that is not often applied to major-party candidates -- that of the spoiler. But who, exactly, is she spoiling?

Prof. Larry Sabato from the University of Virginia posited an interesting hypothesis to me: That Scozzafava's remaining vote is not a conservative Republican base vote that would go to Hoffman, since voters on the right have already been coalescing around him, but she could actually be drawing more from the moderate Democrat Owens.

"Most people think of that as just a rock solid Republican vote, but who are those people?" Sabato said. "They're people who now know, for the most part, that Scozzafava is a liberal Republican. They get it. And a lot of them are really unhappy with Hoffman, so are they really gonna back Hoffman?"

As this idea goes -- and keep in mind that it's not a solid pronouncement, but simply an interpretation of the data as it stands now -- if the Republican continues to fall, it could end up helping the Democrat in a district that voted 52% for Barack Obama in 2008, and where a majority might find a Democrat preferable to the right-wing Conservative.

Could apparently false statements made by the head of a coal-industry lobby group before Congress this morning end up being referred to the Justice Department for a criminal perjury probe? Congressional investigators aren't ruling it out.

As we reported, Steve Miller, the director of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), appears to have twice misled Congress while under oath during his testimony this morning over those forged letters sent on the coal lobby's behalf by Bonner and Associates.

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The CBO has weighed in with a preliminary cost estimate of the House's health care bill--and there are almost certainly some very happy people in House leadership.

At $894 billion, the bill's 10 year cost comes in a hair under President Obama's $900 billion red line. But, more politically and substantively important, the bill is projected to reduce the deficit in both the first 10 years and the second 10 years after enactment, just as Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) told me earlier today.

Over the first 10 years, revenues and savings are projected to exceed new spending (aka it reduces the deficit) by $104 billion. Projections into the following decade are, as CBO chief Doug Elmendorf always notes, very dicey. But Elmendorf says that, from 2020-2029, "the added revenues and cost savings are projected to grow slightly more rapidly than the cost of the coverage expansions." In other words, though the government will pay more and more each year in subsidies and expanded entitlements, it will be realizing savings and collecting revenues at a greater rate.

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