TPM News

The financial costs of the massive Gulf Coast oil spill are just beginning to become a political issue, with Democrats in Washington reluctant to divvy out any more taxpayer funds in an election year, especially for states whose governors have been among the most vocal over the past year in blasting federal spending.

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has been a vocal critic of federal spending under President Obama, but as the state closest to the undersea leak, he already has requested various forms of federal disaster assistance. He's also anticipating the possibility that British Petroleum either won't, or won't have to under the law, foot the the full cost of all the damages associated with the spill.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) took a swipe at Jindal when I asked during a brief interview this week if Congress was considering any funding to add to what BP will do. "Well you know, here we go. You know, the governor of Louisiana says the federal government should stay out of the state's business," Menendez told me Tuesday night. Jindal's office said they would respond but haven't yet gotten back to me. We'll update if they do.

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Americans are much less interested in supporting off-shore drilling in the wake of the calamitous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That's according to a new poll from Rasmussen, which shows support for drilling has dropped by 14% since late March. The number of Americans who say they're concerned about the environmental impact of offshore drilling jumped 20% in the same period.

A majority of Americans, 58%, still support adding more oil wells to the nation's coastal waters. But that's down from 72% less than Ramussen's March poll. Less than half in that poll, 49%, said the were "at least somewhat concerned about environmental problems caused by drilling. In the new poll, 69% say they're concerned about the environmental impact of drilling.

The Rasmussen poll was conducted among 1000 likely voters on May 4-5. The margin of error is 3%.

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Last night, Jon Stewart had a good laugh over politicians who persistently use the phrase "the American people" as a "cudgel": "The American people can sh*t rainbows. The American people look fantastic today. The American people can have any girl in this room."

"I'm beginning to think that 'the American people' is a meaningless phrase," he added, just like "'the Founders intended,' 'our children deserve,' and 'nobody doesn't like Sara Lee.'"

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The three-way race to replace the retiring Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) will continue to give national Democrats headaches, according to one of the two Democratic candidates in the field. State Sen. Colleen Hanabusa (D) says that despite polls showing her trailing campaign could put just enough of a dent into former Rep. Ed Case's Democratic bid to flip the seat to GOP candidate Charles Djou, she's staying in through the end of the contest.

The TPM Poll Average for the special shows Djou with 32.3, Case with 32.0 and Hanabusa with 21.8. Whichever candidate gets the most votes among the three will win the seat.

There's been increasing pressure on Hanabusa by national Democrats to get out of the contest. But at a press conference yesterday, Hanabusa -- who has the endorsement of the state's most powerful Democrat, Sen. Daniel Inouye -- said she's staying in until the bitter end. That means the House race some Republicans are calling the Democrats' NY-23 will continue to cause worry down at DCCC HQ.

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Last night, Stephen Colbert named George Rekers, a leader in the ex-gay movement and a co-founder of the Family Research Council, his "Alpha Dog of The Week" after Rekers was caught coming back from Europe with a male prostitute, hired from RentBoy.com.

Colbert owned up to hiring a lot of his own crew from RentBoy.com, including his new (and quite muscular) cameraman, Julian.

He also noted: "Jesus spent time with prostitutes. That's why good Christians should always ask themselves 'WBWJR -- What Boy Would Jesus Rent?'"

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Gov. Charlie Crist (I-FL), who left the Republican Party last week to run for Senate as an independent, faces a new test of his status as a candidate of the middle: Whether to veto a bill championed by anti-abortion Republicans in the state legislature. And for now, at least, signs are pointing toward a veto.

The legislation would require a woman seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound of the fetus, and listen to the doctor describe the fetus. As the St. Petersburg Times reports, Crist is sounding a lot like he'll veto it. "I'm concerned about it," Crist said Wednesday. "Even though I'm pro-life I don't want to impose my will on others."

If Crist were to veto the bill, it would be his second high-profile veto of a GOP-backed bill in the last three weeks. In mid-April, Crist vetoed a high-profile education bill that would have eliminated tenure for new teachers and instituted strict guidelines for merit pay -- a move that apparently sealed the deal for his decision to leave the Republican Party and run as an independent.

The latest TV ad from shady anti-financial reform group Stop Too Big To Fail advocates killing financial reform legislation because, the ad claims, the big banks actually want to see reform happen.

The ad follows the same "bailout, bailout -- BAILOUT!!" script of the group's previous ads, but with a new twist. Now, instead of misrepresenting the position of a progressive economist (as the group did with Simon Johnson and Robert Reich), Stop Too Big To Fail makes the twisted argument that financial reform should be defeated precisely because big bank CEOs have made extremely broad statements of support for a regulatory overhaul.

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The President and First Lady delivered the following remarks on immigration reform at the Cinco de Mayo Reception in the Rose Garden of the White House last night:

THE PRESIDENT: Viva! Good evening, everyone. Buenas noches. Michelle and I are so honored to welcome you to the White House. And you all brought outstanding weather, so we thank you for that. (Laughter.) Thank you. I know that a lot of you would rather be watching tonight's game --- the Spurs against "Los Suns" from Phoenix. (Applause.)

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Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher, who just won a seat on his Ohio county's Republican committee, told TPMDC that he decided to run for public office to "weed out the liars, cheaters and thieves." He has a few years, he said, before he asks God whether to run for higher office.

"I pray that he doesn't want me to run for office," Wurzelbacher said in an interview last night.

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