Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - Ensign Investigation Won't End

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Happy Earth Day, that special time of year when you're reminded that it's Earth Day. Susan Collins won't support Paul Ryan's panacea budget, even though it invents a KFC Doubledown that is heart-healthy. Another left-leaning official is departing the White House, fueling rumors that President Obama will ditch Joe Biden and choose a Third Way policy paper on entitlement reform as his 2012 running mate. And come May 3, John Ensign will be just another schlub who doesn't have access to the "Senators Only" elevator ... who is under investigation by the Ethics Committee. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, April 22nd, 2011:

This is why you didn't get HuffPost Hill in your inbox yesterday

SANDOVAL TO ANNOUNCE HELLER ... UH ... ENSIGN'S REPLACEMENT WHEN LAW DEMANDS IT - John Ensign -- a man whose extramarital activity and questionable professional behavior were broadcast nationwide -- likely stepped down so that he wouldn't be (uh oh!) reprimanded by the Senate Ethics Committee. Speculation quickly solidified into conventional wisdom that Rep. Dean Heller will be appointed to the spot. Republican Governor Brian Sandoval is insisting that it's premature to settle on Heller. "I take very seriously the importance of this appointment, so to speculate on potential candidates for appointment before then would be premature," he said in a statement. Sandoval also refused to specify when he would appoint Ensign's successor beyond stating that he would do so before "Pursuant to the relevant law, I expect to announce an appointment before the resignation effective date of May 3," he also said in his really helpful statement. [MSNBC]

Never mind! The Ethics Committee says it's not done with Ensign. If Ensign thought that resigning would quench the Democrats' thirst for blood, he thought wrong. Very, very wrong. "The Senate Ethics Committee has worked diligently for nearly 22 months on this matter and will complete its work in a timely fashion," the panel's top Democrat and Republican, Barbara Boxer and Johnny Isakson, said in a statement. Storm's-a-comin', John. [TPM's Susan Crabtree]

@mikememoli: In last 50 years, 40 appointed sens ran for election. 21 lost and 19 won -- including the last 6 http://lat.ms/fVYw4k

SUSAN COLLINS OPPOSES PAUL RYAN'S BUDGET, FIRST REPUBLICAN TO DO SO - Pressed by a local TV station reporter on whether she supports Paul Ryan's plan to cut spending by $5.8 trillion over ten years, revitalize the economy, develop the be-all-end-all recipe for deviled eggs and forever end war among the nations, Susan Collins said she does not. "I don't happen to support Congressman Ryan's plan but at least he had the courage to put forward a plan to significantly reduce the debt," Collins said on "In the Arena," a Portland-based political talk show. [The Hill]

UNLIKELY SUPPORT FOR PROGRESSIVE BUDGET - The Economist doesn't get why the media is labeling people who call for huge tax cuts "courageous." The mag is "not really sure what 'courage' is supposed to mean here, but this seems precisely backwards. For 30 years, certainly since Walter Mondale got creamed by Ronald Reagan, the most dangerous thing a politician can do has been to call for tax hikes. Politicians who call for higher taxes are punished, which is why they don't do it. I'm curious to see what adjectives people would apply to the Progressive Congressional Caucus's budget proposal. But it's hard for me to imagine the media calling a proposal to raise taxes 'courageous' and 'honest'." But here's the funny thing, anonymous Economist writer: Ryan's budget is "courageous" because it ends Medicare as we know it. But if you say it ends Medicare, the GOP freaks, and says it doesn't. The courageous are a strange folk around here. [The Economist]

Hey! Look at us! We read The Economist!

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Susan King of Mount Prospect, Ill. came away disappointed from her fifth job fair last week. "I stood in high heels for three hours just for the line to separate you out for the jobs you're interested in," said King, 45. When she finally spoke to someone about work, the person asked some cursory background questions and said things like, "Oh, that's interesting." "My feet still hurt," King said. She said she lost her job as a hospital marketing manager shortly before Christmas in 2009. She said she's sent out more than 200 resumes with no luck. "It's been 15 months now so I'm starting to kind of panic."

DOUBLE DOWNER - Seems like nobody in Tennessee understood what the hell was going on with the Extended Benefits program, which provided 20 weeks of benefits to the jobless before state lawmakers let it die last week. [HuffPost]

'WE ALL NEED JOBS' - Tired of getting nowhere in their search for work, 18 unemployed Californians are advertising themselves on billboards throughout the San Francisco area's public transit system. "Let's face it," the advertisements say. "We All Need Jobs!" [HuffPost]

Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

BIDEN'S DEFICIT TALKS GOING NOWHERE FAST - The negotiations have already stalled because the party that didn't take the talks seriously in the first place isn't taking them seriously now (Video at 11). An-n-n-yway, Paul Kane is reporting that Republicans are still suspicious of the White House's motives for convening the talks. "I'm at a loss to understand what the purpose is," said Eric Cantor, who, along with Jon Kyl, is representing the GOP. Asked whether the discussions had a serious purpose or were simply intended to serve as some sort of trans fat-filled bipartisan substitute, Chris Van Hollen didn't sound much more positive. "Well, I guess we'll have to ask the vice president the answer to that question. The jury's still out," he said. Back pats all around. Great job, team. [WaPo]

Jared Bernstein is leaving the White House, part of the administration's continued power cleanse of all its dirty lefty sympathies. Bernstein, who serves as as Vice President Biden's top economic advisor, will head to the progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and is in late-stage discussions with Bloomberg News about becoming a contracted talking head for the network. We hear that Bernstein will likely be replaced with a TV tuned to Fox Business Channel that Bruce Reed will push around on a cart. We're looking forward to Mike Allen's stirring profile of that TV and its number-two, the cart. [WSJ]

WISCONSINITES SPLIT ON WALKER RECALL - A Wisconsin Public Radio / St. Norbert College survey finds that Wisconsin voters are evenly split on whether to recall Governor Scott Walker for the bill he supported that will likely downgrade state workers' health plans to a dally allowance of one doctor-repelling apple. Forty-eight percent of those surveyed want Walker to stay in office while 47 percent want him recalled. [Journal-Sentinel]

DEMOCRATS CASHING IN ON BIRTHER-MANIA - Even as Democrats ruthlessly try to silence THE TRUTH about President Obama's secret Mau Mau revolution fan collage tucked away in his closet, the party is soliciting contributions by highlighting Republican attempts to pass "birther" bills. "No matter how many times it's disproven, Republicans still embrace the dangerous conspiracy theory that President Obama wasn't born in this country and is not eligible to hold office. It's just not true," a Democratic Governors Association email to supporters reads, "but that hasn't stopped Republicans in numerous state legislatures from introducing 'birther' bills aimed specifically at undermining President Obama." We're pretty sure a donation to NPR would probably be a more appropriate way to combat widespread misinformation. Plus, you can put your ignorance-combating books in an NPR tote bag. You can't put your ignorance-combating books in a holiday card from Martin O'Malley. [CNN]

CRASH REPORT LEAVES QUESTIONS ABOUT TED STEVENS' DEATH - Mackenzie Weinger: "Recently released documents detailing the plane crash that killed former Sen. Ted Stevens offer new insights into the accident but do not point to a specific cause. On Thursday, the National Transportation Safety Board released to the public hundreds of pages from its investigation of the Aug. 9, 2010, crash that killed the Alaska Republican and four other passengers. The accident docket includes factual reports on a wide range of topics such as the weather, aircraft performance and the pilot's medical history. The NTSB will offer an analysis of the findings -- including probable cause -- at a public board meeting on May 24." [Roll Call]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Man finally splitting the atom pales in comparison to the the massive power of two puppies falling asleep after their first walk [http://chzb.gr/gIXEHU]

@matthewstoller: Here's Econned (read chpt 9): http://amzn.to/eJnJJx Here's "Pulitzer Prize winning" Propublica story: http://bit.ly/9IKbzM

TRIG BIRTHERISM ALSO A THING, ALSO STUPID - Despite the prevailing wisdom that mainstream conspiracy theories are only espoused by the right because lefties are too wimpy to indulge their baser doubts on any issue graver than whether that Whole Foods mixed bag of spinach and arugula is actually organic, the belief that Sarah Palin is not the mother of her son, Trig, is gaining steam. A recently published "academic" paper from a Northern Kentucky University professor attempted to prove that Trig is actually Bristol Palin's daughter. This reignited the passions of longtime Trig birthers like Andrew Sullivan. Salon's Justin Elliott took the time to present the evidence why this rumor is bunk. Among the evidence presented are first-hand accounts, testimony from doctors and photographs. If you feel stupid and a little dirty for even spending this much of your life on this, don't worry. So did we. [Salon]

Mother Earth, brought to you by SECRETS: "The Central Intelligence Agency's practice of shredding and burning classified papers--often referred to in movies and books as "burn after reading"--is one of several ways the CIA conserves energy...Exhaust from the Agency's on-site incinerator generates steam to heat water at CIA Headquarters. In addition to saving fuel, that process reduces the amount of waste--which would otherwise be destined for landfills--by nearly 1,000 tons per year." [CIA]

An Earth Day jam from Sesame Street

KEVIN THE INTERN'S 'THIS DAY IN HISTORY' - April 22nd, 1954: Congress Realizes it can use hearings to wrongfully accuse people of ties to Communism: The Army discharged Michigan's Milo Radulovich in 1953 because of his Polish family members' alleged leftist ties. Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin went one step further, and accused the entire Army of being rife with Commies. His accusation led him to hold the openly-televised Army-McCarthy Hearings in 1954. As the Government Operations Committee held session after session, nothing came of them, and the premise for the hearings appears to have been delusion. Soon, Senator McCarthy was called out by his witnesses, and then the Senate censured him in a vote. His shame led him to become an alcoholic, and three years later, he died. Amazingly, the Army did not crumble before the might and infection of the Red Menace, but good try, Joe. Thanks, KB!

COMFORT FOOD

- Has there ever been a video of a Rube Goldberg machine that wasn't AWESOME? Not only is this Rube Goldberg machine innately awesome, but it tracks the development of the Earth. [http://bit.ly/ijbRMD]

- It takes a real ballsy seven-year-old to steal the towel from a 6'10" basketball player with about -10 percent body fat. [http://bit.ly/e0rLh7]

- "Hovering Art Directors" is a very niche Tumblr but a funny one if you get the joke. [http://bit.ly/efB0ol]

- Spike Jonze filmed this fantastic video of hip-hop dancer Lil' Buck and Yo-Yo Ma performing "The Dying Swan." [http://bit.ly/fPLMLY]

- This human rendering of Bert from Sesame Street is maybe the most terrifying thing we've ever seen. [http://bit.ly/fgT58h]

- A 3D porno in Hong Kong bested Avatar for the best opening weekend box office total. China is out America-ing us. [http://bit.ly/iiSiOD]

- A man spent 35 years building a model of San Francisco using only toothpicks. Behold: [http://bit.ly/hw9vvH]

- Lil' Thor is adorable, hammer-handed. [http://bit.ly/e9YfR5]

This Audi is made entirely out of paper. Sadly, it still gets better gas mileage than a Ford. [http://bit.ly/g4p3eE]

TWITTERAMA

@FakeAPStylebook: Thanks to that new movie, you no longer have to write around the fact that Easter bunnies shit jelly beans.

@joandidion: give joan some luv

@drgrist: If you save energy by unplugging your power strip every day for 10,000 years, it'll be like shutting down a coal plant!

ON TAP

Tonight, 8:00 pm: The Crystal Stilts, who kind of sound like baby of The Doors and The Strokes after a bad breakup (in that they live in minor chords and sing apathetically), perform at Black Cat [Black Cat, 1811 14th Street NW].

Tomorrow: NEXT at the Corcoran: BFA Class of 2011 opens at the Corcoran. The exhibit features -- you guessed it! -- the work of the Corcoran's 2011 BFA class. Free art, dude. What's not to love? [Corcoran, 500 17th Street NW].

Tomorrow, 10:00 pm: Femi Kuti, son of Fela, continues in his father's footsteps with the afrobeat that his dad perfected. Expect D.C.'s entire non-profit/Mt. Pleasant population to be in attendance [9:30 Club, 815 V Street NW].

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Filed by Eliot Nelson
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