TPM News

Even though Jon Stewart didn't talk about Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) on The Daily Show Thursday night, there were still a sizable helping of weiner jokes. Or rather, there was one giant weiner joke throughout the opening segment.

"For the past two weeks, the news has been dominated by scandal of a particularly prurient nature. I for one believe its time to lift our gaze from the gossip filled gutter," Stewart said.

"The real challenge for a news program such as ours is not how best to indulge our most base and callow instincts, but rather how best to choose what important yet now overlooked story of importance to do first," he added.

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Updated at 11:57 AM ET

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has handed over a report it commissioned on the agency that manages state employees' health insurance, after state senators on Wednesday raised the propsect of a legislative subpoena. But the report is still not being made available to the public.

Brenda Hodge, communications director for the Louisiana state Senate, told TPM that the subpoena was not issued because lawmakers were able to "reach an agreement with the [the Division of Administration] a to receive a copy of the report."

The report, prepared by New Orleans company Chaffe & Associates, was commissioned as part of the administration's plan to privatize the Office of Group Benefits (OGB), which oversees health care for around 250,000 state workers, retirees and their dependents. The report apparently analyzes OGB's financial value. At a Senate & Governmental Affairs Committee confirmation hearing last week, Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater and OGB Chief Scott Kipper were asked about the report. During the hearing, Rainwater promised to get senators a copy of the report, but this week he went back on that pledge. That prompted lawmakers to vote to issue a subpoena -- though it was never issued.

While handing over the report, Rainwater asked the senators to keep the document secret, according to The Associated Press.

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Before last night, only CNN could tout a bona fide sex scandal veteran on their Rep. Anthony Weiner sexting fiasco coverage team. Tonight, Fox News upped the ante with an exclusive interview with former Congressman Mark Foley, who told Sean Hannity how he overcame his demons and how he expects Rep. Weiner can repair his life.
Foley found himself in disgrace after lewd email communications between him and 16-year-old boys were discovered, after which he immediately resigned. For Hannity, the behavior was inexplicable, though Foley tried: "I saw the computer screen almost like a confessional in a church," he noted, trying to grasp at the safety he felt despite the risk he was taking. Meanwhile, he refused to seek help because "I didn't want anyone to see me reaching for something that would give me understanding." Hannity asked how he dealt with the issue today: "do you punish yourself every day?" Foley noted that he did struggle with the consequences of his actions to this day.

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An alcohol distributor has admitted he illegally reimbursed his employees for donations made to the presidential campaign of Vice President Joe Biden at a sham fundraising event and provided free booze at parties for numerous politicians.

Christopher Tigani, the former president of NKS Distributors Inc., admitted in a plea agreement with the Justice Department that he bundled at least $219,800 in illegal campaign contributions to federal and state candidates. He also admitted he and his company provided in-kind contributions to federal and state candidates and campaign committees, including free alcohol at political fundraising events.

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A growing chorus of progressives is calling on Democrats to keep their mouths shut when it comes to Rep. Anthony Weiner's (D-NY) future -- and are dismissing the Democratic calls for Weiner to step down as another sign of the timidity of the party.

It's not so much that Weiner didn't screw up royally, they say. It's that they say it's just not that big a deal, and making it into one falls into a Republican trap. And, besides, they say, as long as Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) is still walking the halls of the Capitol, why should the left be forced to lose one of its most ardent supporters?

It's not clear how far this will develop. Defending Weiner is not something many are willing to do. But for some progressives, the response to Weiner is another sign of the Democratic party letting its left wing down.

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The sudden capsizing of Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign, as aides departed en masse Thursday, leaves Newt with few remaining supporters, a position he has found himself in frequently throughout a tumultuous career that left many burned bridges in its wake.

Katon Dawson, a top aide and fixture in South Carolina politics quit on Thursday, and conceded to TPM only weeks earlier that Gingrich had a history of working in isolation.

"Newt's a guy who's been alone in these fights a long time," Dawson told TPM. "If you look into the 1990s when they were taking on big stuff -- welfare reform, when Clinton vetoed him before signing the budget, reducing the deficit -- those were big, big things and he didn't have a lot of partners then."

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Already on the rise, the buzz around Texas Governor Rick Perry's presidential aspirations is about to get very loud in the wake of Newt Gingrich's campaign collapse.

Two of Perry's closest aides, Rob Johnson and Dave Carney, were among the wave of staffers to resign from Gingrich's campaign. Their participation in a potential rivals' camp was often cited by observers as a sign Perry may not be running for president in 2012.

Minutes after news of their departure, CBS reported that Perry was "serious" about a White House bid, per sources close to the governor. Earlier that same day, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece quoting unnamed confidants suggesting Perry was looking closely at joining the race.

After well over a year of strong denials that he was interested in a run, Perry told reporters in May that he was considering a bid and would make his final decision once the state legislature had finished its session. He'd instantly be considered a top-tier candidate given his resume as a long-serving governor, his popularity with conservatives, and the lack of a credible Southern candidate in the field.

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