TPM News

TPMmuckraker's story yesterday about Koch Industries preemptively alerting the press that the mega-company does not fund tea parties -- despite the fact that it backs one of the major tea party groups -- got the Rachel Maddow treatment last night.

"So David Koch, founder of Americans for Prosperity, wants you to know that he's not at all funding the tea party movement -- except for that part where he totally funds the tea party movement," Maddow said in the segment. "But other than that, just wants to get the facts clear."

Watch:

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April 15, 2010: President Obama visits the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and boldly predicts that American astronauts will reach Mars in his lifetime. Here's a look back at other Presidents who took an interest in outer space.

November 16, 1963: Dr. Werner Von Braun explains the Saturn system to President Kennedy during a tour of the Cape Canaveral Missile Test Annex.

NASA




September 8, 1960: Dr. Braun points out details on a Saturn-bound rocket to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Two years earlier, Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, the statute that created NASA.

Newscom/NASA via CNP




February 23, 1962: Kennedy inspects the interior of "Friendship 7" at Cape Canaveral. He was there to present the NASA Distinguished Service Medal to Astronaut John Glenn, pictured on his right.

Newscom/White House via CNP




July 16, 1969: Former President Lyndon B. Johnson and Vice President Spiro Agnew watch the liftoff of Apollo 11.

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July 24, 1969: President Richard Nixon welcomes home Apollo 11 astronauts, seen aboard the U.S.S. Hornet, after their historic lunar landing mission.

Newscom/NASA via CNP




October 1, 1978: Captain Robert Peterson, left, and President Jimmy Carter, right, present the first Congressional Space Medal of Honor to astronaut Neil Armstrong, center, at Cape Canaveral.

Newscom/NASA via CNP




February 5, 1982: Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, third from left, checks in on the Spacelab engineering module at the Kennedy Space Center.

NASA




March 22, 1982: Vice President Bush and President Ronald Reagan watch the lift-off of STS-3, the third flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia.

Newscom/White House via CNP




October 29, 1998: President Bill Clinton, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Astronaut Robert Cabana, and NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin watch a successful launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery.

NASA




August 2, 2005: President George W. Bush speaks with the Discovery crew by telephone.

Newscom/KRT




January 20, 2009: President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden watch as the NASA lunar electric rover stops in front of the Presidential reviewing stand in front of the White House on Inauguration Day.

Newscom/Zuma




April 15, 2010: President Barack Obama waves farewell after speaking at the Space Center. While the president's new plan for the space program has sparked some controversy, he sounded confident. By reforming the program, he said, the U.S. can "leap into the future."

Newscom/NASA-CNP

The popular narrative of an assault against a GOP operative in New Orleans, which was quickly becoming a cause célèbre in the conservative blogosphere, sustained another blow today as the police released a report suggesting the incident was not politically motivated.

The police report on the April 9 incident in which Allee Bautsch, the chief campaign fundraiser for Gov. Bobby Jindal, was attacked by a small group of men says that the group hurled insults at Bautsch and her boyfriend, calling them "b*tch" and "f*ggot," but did not make political insults.

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The former president of Blackwater has been indicted on weapons charges.

Federal prosecutors today charged Gary Jackson with conspiracy to violate firearms laws, false statements and possession of an unregistered firearm, reports the Associated Press.

Four others were also charged, including former general counsel Andrew Howell and former executive vice president Bill Mathews.

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April 16, 2010: A huge cloud of volcanic ash spreads from Iceland to England, Europe and Russia, following an eruption on the 14th. This was the second time the volcano, located beneath Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull glacier about 125 kilometers east of Reykjavik, erupted this month.

Here, the eruption is pictured alongside the Aurora Borealis.

Newscom/Zuma




Cars drive through the ash in Iceland.

Newscom/Sipa




A NASA satellite image of the ash.

Newscom/NASA DPA




A farmer in Iceland photographs the volcano's eruption.

Newscom/Zuma




The sun sets at Hanover airport in Germany, where planes have been grounded.

Newscom/Sipa




Passengers sleep on makeshift beds at an airport in Brussels, Belgium. Around 17,000 flights have been canceled all over Europe in one day alone, causing severe delays.

Newscom/Zuma




The volcano.

Newscom/DPA photos




Newscom/Zuma

Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Former President Bill Clinton.

• CBS, Face The Nation: Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA).

• CNN, State Of The Union: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA).

• Fox News Sunday: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Gen. Ray Odierno.

• NBC, Meet The Press: Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA).

It's shaping up to be a clash of the titans.

On the one hand, Senate Democrats aren't stepping back an inch from their pledge to move ahead with financial regulatory reform, with or without Republicans, by the end of next week. In fact, just today, President Obama threatened to veto a final bill if it's weakened too much during the legislative process.

But on the other hand, Republicans have coalesced around a strategy of uniform opposition to the Democrats' draft legislation authored by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd.

So we're at an impasse.

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In yet another indication of the Republican Party closing ranks around Marco Rubio in the Florida Senate primary, Mitt Romney is now endorsing his candidacy in the Republican primary over the initial favorite, Gov. Charlie Crist.

The TPM Poll Average shows Rubio leading int he primary by 59.1%-27.9%, a mirror image of Crist's initial lead in the race last year. Rubio parlayed conservative discontent with Crist, especially over Crist's support of President Obama's 2009 stimulus bill, into support that helped him overtake the governor in the polls.

Crist further alienated Republicans yesterday when he vetoed a GOP-backed education bill, which would have eliminated tenure for new teachers and instituted strict merit pay guidelines. This has led to increased speculation that Crist could leave the Republican Party and run for Senate as an independent against Rubio and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek -- a possibility that Crist no longer seems to be ruling out.

A fourth New Orleans police officer was charged today in connection with the coverup of the police shootings of unarmed civilians on Danziger Bridge in New Orleans less than a week after Hurricane Katrina struck.

Officer Robert Barrios is accused of conspiring to obstruct justice with other officers who were on the scene when police killed two people and seriously wounded four others in what the Times-Picayune editorial board recently dubbed a "massacre."

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Could the days of presidential hopefuls flinging accusations at one another about "measuring the drapes" at the White House be over?

Sen. Joe Lieberman is aiming to take the presumptuousness out of planning, saying it's critical for national security to ensure a seamless start for a new president. Lieberman (I-CT) has joined Sens. George Voinovich (R-OH), Ted Kaufman (D-DE) and Daniel Akaka (D-HI) to write a bill that would allow presidential candidates to formally begin transition work once they accept the party nomination.

In the fast-moving political climate as world events travel the speed of the Internet, there's not a moment to spare when a new president takes office. But the next chief executive isn't allowed to really plan for taking over the White House until they win the election. The bipartisan legislation proposes giving both major party presidential nominees a two-month jump on the process.

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