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Here's a fun dose of schadenfreude.

Sen.-elect Al Franken's (D-MN) long-awaited victory in the 2008 Minnesota Senate race seems to have caused quite a lot of stress in the Murdoch-owned press. Remember, this is the same corporation that sued him for his Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them book back in 2003, with the unintended consequence of giving him tons of free publicity to sell books -- and elevating him into being a hero of liberal activists, without which he might never have become a politician!

On Fox News yesterday evening, Glenn Beck was quite alarmed by the development:



"This is like having me in the Senate," Beck said. "You don't want me as a Senator! What is that? I mean, it shows how crazy our country has gone -- you don't want me as a Senator, you don't want Al Franken as a Senator."

Regardless of whether you agree with that comparison, you do have to admire Beck's honesty about himself.

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The CIA's former station chief in Algeria has been indicted on sexual assault charges, the Washington Post reports.

Andrew Warren, who was the CIA's top officer in the North African country, was charged with drugging and assaulting a Muslim woman in his official residence in February 2008. The charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Warren had been sent back to America when the investigation was announced in January. At the time, the Justice Department was looking into assault allegations from two women. When they investigated his home, they found tapes of him engaged in sex acts, one with an apparently semi-conscious woman. The CIA says he has been fired.

Warren has said sex with both women was consensual.

Here are the details of the allegations:

The woman who made the 2008 allegation told investigators that she had known Warren for several months and that he invited her to his residence on Feb. 17 and gave her a tour. She said that after drinking two apple martinis, she suddenly felt paralyzed, though she could speak and see, authorities wrote in court documents.

The woman was then sexually assaulted, she told authorities. An investigator with the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service wrote in court papers that the woman's symptoms were consistent with being drugged.

We reported recently that, according to two board members for the Corporation for National and Community Service, the firing of the agency's inspector general was initiated by the board, which had developed serious concerns about the IG's performance. Conservatives had been accusing the White House of firing the IG, Gerald Walpin, for conducting an aggressive investigation into an Obama ally.

And today the Washington Post offers more detail about what caused the board to lose confidence in Walpin, based on documents turned over by CNCS to lawmakers reviewing the firing.

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Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, has now sent out a DSCC fundraising e-mail celebrating the victory of Sen.-elect Al Franken (D-MN), and inviting recipients to congratulate him.

"Sen.-elect Franken's vote will be crucial as we work to pass President Obama's change agenda - a stronger economy, health care for more Americans, and energy policies that protect the planet," the e-mail says, with the emphasis in the original. "We'd also like to thank all of those dedicated supporters from Minnesota and across the nation who helped make it happen. Al Franken couldn't have won without your help, and his victory is your victory, too."

Technically, the e-mail is not a fundraising letter, as there is no appeal for money in the body of the text. There is a standard button at the bottom to contribute money to the DSCC -- and the Dems would obviously appreciate any donations that might come in to mark the occasion -- but they put that in all their e-mails.

The full e-mail is available after the jump.

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Americans United for Change has this new TV ad in the D.C. media market -- essentially aimed at the political and journalistic classes -- praising the energy bill that was passed in the House and now faces a tough fight in the Senate:



The ad gives a patriotic fervor to the bill, focusing on the development of clean-energy jobs in this country. "Last month, Congress met President Obama's challenge to create millions of clean energy jobs," the announcer says, "not in India or China, but right here, in America."

The groups MoveOn, Democracy for America, and Change Congress are out with a new ad in Louisiana targeting Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) for her opposition to a public option.



MoveOn hasn't shied away from criticizing Democrats who are trying to kill the public option. In the last couple weeks, the group has loudly criticized Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Kay Hagan (D-CA) for their positions on the public option, and their lukewarm attitude to health care reform more generally.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has launched this new TV ad going after freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) for his vote on the climate bill -- and attacking President's Obama's statement during the 2008 campaign that electricity rates would "skyrocket" under a cap-and-trade system.

This is the first attack ad from the Republican Party during this cycle that uses President Obama in a negative manner:



"That's right -- 'skyrocket,'" the announcer says. "It'll destroy jobs and cost middle-class families $1,800 a year, every time you turn on a switch. On Tom Perriello's voting with Obama and with Nancy Pelosi over and over."

The following other Democratic members of Congress are on the target list for radio ads, phone calls and Web ads: Rick Boucher (VA); Vic Snyder (AR); Ike Skelton (MO); Baron Hill (IN); Harry Teague (NM); Bruce Braey (IA); Bart Gordon (TN); Betsy Markey (CO); John Boccieri (OH); Zack Space (OH); Alan Grayson (FL); Debbie Halvorson (IL); and Mary Jo Kilroy (OH).

Late Update: DCCC spokesman Ryan Rudominer gives us this response: "Instead of offering solutions, the Republican Party of No is trying to block progress on creating clean energy jobs, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and getting America running on clean energy. It's no wonder the American people don't trust Republicans when all they offer are false attacks on President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Congressional Democrats."

The surfeit of polling data showing broad public support for the public option hasn't swayed Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who's joining conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans in staunch opposition. Check out this video from Paul Bass at the New Haven Independent.



His two key objections are:

  1. "If we create a public option, the public is going to end up paying for it."


  2. "My fear is...[health care providers] would end up getting levels of reimbursement from the public plan...comparable to what they get today from Medicaid."


He should probably take a look at the work the relevant Senate committees are doing, though. The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee is contemplating a public option that finances itself (i.e. no public subsidy), and the likeliest outcome of the legislative process will be a public option that either exists on a level playing field with private insurers (and pays comparable rates for care), or a public option that pays Medicare like rates, or something in between.

SCOTUS Moving Rightward Under Roberts The Washington Post reports that this past Supreme Court session shows the Roberts Court to have moved definitely to the right, through a cautious and incremental -- but definitely conservative -- approach. "One thing I think is going on is that the Chief Justice has a devotion to the institution of the Supreme Court, and not wanting to get it out on a limb in front of public opinion," said Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute. "But Roberts is, after all, a conservative." The New York Times says the same thing, pointing to the key role played by Justice Anthony Kennedy as the swing vote.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will hold an online town hall discussion on health care at 1:15 p.m. ET, hosted at Northern Virginia Community College. At 4:45 p.m. ET, he will sign a bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots.

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A new Quinnipiac poll finds that a large majority of Americans would like to see government increase its involvement in health care. Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed said they support a public option.

Interestingly--though perhaps predictably--most of this support seems to be in the abstract. A majority of those asked (53%) most suggested they'd rather be covered by private insurance than by a government-run option--reflective, perhaps, of the reality that most Americans are already insured and most of them are pleased with the quality of their health care. But they nonetheless want other citizens to have the option. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they want government-run health insurance.

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