POLITICS
04/26/2011 06:01 pm ET | Updated Jun 26, 2011

HUFFPOST HILL - Romneybot Cannot Process Human War

Well-coiffed robot Mitt Romney is fuzzy on post-2000 American history, probably because he wasn't upgraded to be Y2K compliant. John Boehner's unforeseen anti-Big Oil views make us wonder how long it is until he pilots a dinghy into a whaling vessel. And Katie Couric announced that she will no longer be the last thing your grandparents see before they fall asleep. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, April 26th, 2011:

RON PAUL ANNOUNCES EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE - The patron saint of annoying college debate club kids and 80 percent of bearded people who aren't hipsters is getting back into presidential politics. At an event in Iowa this afternoon, the libertarian idol announced the formation of his presidential exploratory committee. Paul also used the event to name his committee leadership team, stacked with local GOP officials and Republican activists. In an aggressively low-key move, Paul made his announcement at an airport hotel in Des Moines, either to downplay the news or to cause Tim Pawlenty’s video guy’s head to combust. [HuffPost]

REID MIGHT FORCE VOTE ON RYAN’S BUDGET - His influence on the wane thanks to a GOP-controlled House and a diminished caucus, Harry Reid continues to make annoying Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins his number-one priority. A spokesman for Harry Reid confirms that the majority leader’s thinking about holding a vote on Paul Ryan’s budget. “He's considering it,” Reid flak Jon Summers told Sam Stein. The objective of the vote would be to embarrass moderate Republicans by forcing them to take sides on whether your grandmother should pay for her medical care with your inheritance. If this fails to rile the GOP’s not-as-right flank, Harry Reid could always just sneak up on Scott Brown and flick his ear. [HuffPost]

Reid’s position is made more precarious by Joe Manchin, who today threw his support behind a wide-sweeping budget proposal. Manchin’s plan will cap federal spending at 20.6 of the GDP, just .6 percent higher than Paul Ryan’s proposal but 3.4 percent lower than the president’s. “Amazingly, Washington is the only place where agreeing to trillions of dollars of additional debt and avoiding difficult budget decisions is the ‘responsible’ thing to do,” Manchin told a West Virginia crowd according to his prepared remarks. “The truth is, raising the debt ceiling without a real budget fix would be the definition of irresponsibility.” [Roll Call]

Actually, irresponsibility means you avoid responsibility -- for things like paying back a loan you’ve already spent. That sort of thing.

Katie Couric has confirmed that she is stepping down as anchor of the CBS Evening News. "I have decided to step down from the CBS Evening News," she said in an interview posted on People’s website. “[I]n making the decision to move on, I know the Evening News will be in great hands, but I am excited about the future," she added. It is widely expected that 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley will take over anchor duties at Evening News, the program Americans trust most to interrupt commercials for bladder-control medication and Sea Bond. This being CBS, there’s also a good chance that Couric will be replaced by a forensic crime show that you’ve never heard of. [HuffPost’s Jack Mirkinson and Michael Calderone]

Mark Knoller for anchor.

Bruce Raynor stepped down from the SEIU over a few meals expensed wrong? Pffffft. So now the SEIU is a bastion of integrity? What’s Tyrone Freeman have to say to the Feds about that? [Crain’s]

Tonight in The Hill: “Kevin Bogardus and Bernie Becker on how lobbying disclosure records show that more than 80 companies, lobby firms and trade groups have lobbied on plans that could lower corporate tax rates at the expense of loopholes and subsidies that are beneficial to many businesses and industry sectors.”

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The Arizona legislature adjourned for the year last week without taking up a bill to continue the state’s eligibility for the federal Extended Benefits program, which provides up to 20 weeks of benefits for the long-term jobless. Arizona House Minority Whip Anna Tovar complained on the final day of the session that the legislature wasted time picking out the Colt Revolver as state gun instead of dealing with the expiring benefits. “My family owns guns, and I’m embarrassed that state government chose to spend hours on a state gun — even brought it back on reconsideration after it was defeated — instead of changing one word in statute to ensure 20,000 Arizonans’ jobless aid isn’t cut off during tough times. This is absolutely ridiculous and offensive, and it’s even more humiliating that the weapon they chose isn’t even manufactured in Arizona.” The EB program will expire in May.

DOUBLE DOWNER - The continued existence of Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and his ridiculous lawsuit against the Washington City Paper. [HuffPost’s Jason Linkins]

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

PRESIDENT WELCOMES JOHN BOEHNER’S SUDDEN HOSTILITY TO THE OIL INDUSTRY - In an interview with ABC News aired yesterday, Speaker Boehner indicated that he would be open to lifting tax incentives for oil companies. To Republicans, holding that view is no less offensive than some guy named “Wildcat” tying a bandanna around his head and chaining himself to a centuries-old American chestnut tree to postpone construction of a big box store. Naturally, Boehner’s staff has been furiously whitewashing the speaker’s statement. Today President Obama seized upon Boehner’s comments. “I was heartened that Speaker Boehner yesterday expressed openness to eliminating these tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry,” the president wrote in a letter to congressional leaders calling for Congress to slash the tax breaks. “Our political system has for too long avoided and ignored this important step, and I hope we can come together in a bipartisan manner to get it done.” [HuffPost’s Jen Bendery]

@NancyPelosi: Nice to see @SpeakerBoehner open to ending billions in taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil: http://go.usa.gov/b4q #NowVoteForIt

APPROPRIATIONS CHAIR ACTING LIKE APPROPRIATIONS CHAIR - A report out today from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington finds that Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers has repeatedly gone to the well despite an increase in anti-spending rhetoric. It’s not “My country club needs a new gold-coated chocolate fountain” bad, but it’s still pretty bad. The group finds that Rogers has appropriated $236 million sine 2000 to a group of non-profits he created back home in Kentucky. “On March 7, 2011, CREW filed eight Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with federal agencies, asking for information about Rep. Rogers’ role in directing federal money via agency spending,” CREW’s press release reads. “The Small Business Administration (SBA) responded with documents detailing how Rep. Rogers intervened on behalf of a campaign donor, the owner of a marina in his district, to win an increase in the amount of the marina’s SBA disaster loan, which had been denied by the agency twice previously. The agency relented after a meeting with the marina owner in the congressman’s office. CREW’s other FOIAs are still pending.” [CREW]

ORGANIZING THE UNEMPLOYED - The community organizing affiliate of the AFL-CIO is coordinating with state labor groups to hold monthly meetings of the unemployed in five U.S. cities, in hopes of connecting the jobless with helpful resources and involving them in local politics. [HuffPost]

Unemployment benefits kept some 3.3 million people out of poverty in 2009, according to a new study by the Congressional Research Service. [CRS]

MITT ROMNEY FORGOT ABOUT ALL THOSE WARS WE’RE IN - Even as America nears a five-across “bingo!” in the Arab world, presidential explorer and mandroid Mitt Romney seems to think everything is coming up roses for the military. “Barack Obama is facing a financial emergency on a grander scale,” he wrote in a Union Leader op-ed published yesterday, “Yet his approach has been to engage in one of the biggest peacetime spending binges in American history.” A Romeny spokesperson told MSNBC that, "He meant to say since World War II" (Hey, remember when those wars he forgot about were the reason his party won elections?) Also, we’re eagerly awaiting Romeny’s plan on how to handle the impending baby boom now that soldiers are returning home and popping out kids. We like Ike! [MSNBC]

BERKLEY GAINING ON HELLER IN NEVADA - A Public Policy Polling survey of Nevada voters finds the race between the top two candidates is narrowing. Rep. Dean Heller, who is expected to be named the interim replacement to John Ensign, leads Rep. Shelley Berkley 47 percent to 44 percent. A PPP poll in early January gave Heller a much more comfortable 51 percent to 38 percent lead. “The main thing fueling Berkley's gain is that Democratic voters have soured on Heller since he launched his Senate campaign, significantly cutting into his crossover support. In January Heller posted a pretty decent 22/31 favorability spread with Democrats, allowing him a 46/23 breakdown overall. Now just 16% of Democrats express a positive view of him and 48% have a negative one. That's caused his net favorability to drop 9 points from +23 to now +14 at 43/29.” [PPP]

Democrat Alan Khazei has entered the race for Scott Brown’s Senate seat. Khazei, the founder of City Year, was a candidate in the 2010 special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat and ultimately lost the nomination to political mastermind Martha Coakley. While Khazei’s name recognition and ability to speak in public like a drunk lecturing a lamp post pales in comparison to Sen. Brown, he did prove to be an adept fundraiser the last go around, hauling in three million dollars during the truncated campaign. [AP/Boston Globe]

Bob Massie, a former candidate for lieutenant governor and the only other declared Democrat, has hired Joe Trippi.

PRIEBUS: EXPECT SURPRISE 2012 CANDIDATES - The newly-minted Republican National Committee chairman and most wide-eyed, “Hey, Charlie, I think he likes it!” Republican operative working today says he anticipates the GOP 2012 field to expand in an unexpected way. “We don’t know who’s going to be in the race," he said at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. "I think it’s still pretty early. It’s 19 months until November...Perhaps some others that we aren’t talking about might get in the race.” Priebus added that because of the stakes of the 2012 election, some new candidates might feel “compelled” to enter (as opposed to that famous, low-stakes “pancakes vs. waffles” election a few years back). [HuffPost’s Jon Ward]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Duckling scares the bejesus out of a dog 10-times its size. This, friends, is the Internet.

CARLY’S CANNABIS CORNER - Carly Schwartz: “Bad news for San Diego's Carlos Cunningham. Federal agents busted the 29-year-old after finding ten tons of pot in his truck, and he's since been sentenced to 21 years and eight months in federal prison. Cannabis Corner analysts did some number crunching and determined that Cunningham's stash amounts to 2,482,200 eighths of weed -- enough to keep the entire University of Vermont happy for at least a year. We hope the DEA smokes some of it in secret, or that's a lot of greenery gone to waste. Meanwhile, Rhode Island House Minority Leader Robert Watson is having an equally horrible day. Most famous for his assertion that his state legislature's priorities are fine "if you're a gay man from Guatemala who gambles and smokes pot," the lawmaker was recently arrested in Connecticut for allegedly driving under the influence. Cops subsequently searched his car and unearthed "a small plastic sandwich bag containing a green leafy plant-like substance and a small wooden marijuana smoking pipe." Watson's camp has denied the charges, but to Cannabis Corner's knowledge, no one puts oregano in a pipe these days.” Thanks, Carly!

KEVIN THE INTERN’S ‘THIS DAY IN HISTORY’ - April 26th, 1865: John Wilkes-Booth Learns About Union’s Criminal-Hunting Skills: The original Confederate conspiracy was to kill Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William Seward at once, but only Booth was successful in his task. It took 12 days for the Union to find him in the countryside, even though Booth had broken his leg and didn’t get to a doctor for awhile. He rowed a boat across the Potomac and got trapped by the searching army at a farm in Virginia. They set the barn on fire and shot Booth while he was still inside. “Sic Semper Tyrannis” may have been Booth’s wish as he shot Lincoln, but if it didn’t end well for Brutus, it wasn’t going to end well for an actor from Maryland. Thanks, KB!

COMFORT FOOD

- There’s a new Banksy. The kids tell us that means something. [http://bit.ly/fqR3Jv]

- Turn Your Name Into A Face takes your name and produces an 8-bit rendering of what a thing that renders 8-bit images of faces thinks you look like. [http://turnyournameintoaface.com/]

- This video of the 1989 Crystal Light aerobics championship will either perk you up or make you want to hurt someone. [http://bzfd.it/eDtgmJ]

- “Go The Fuck To Sleep” might be the greatest, and most disturbing, children’s book we’ve ever seen. [http://bit.ly/fU4tt7]

- The moral crusaders are right, if we allow gays to marry, who knows what will happen next? Well we know now: Swans will fall in love with blue tractors. [http://bit.ly/i0MkTw]

- “Wish you were here?” Soviet postcards from the Soviet-Finnish war. [http://bit.ly/eHndKJ]

- Who knew baby bats were so freaking cute? [http://bit.ly/h1Irwq]

- Tape cassette inserts from the 70s and 80s. More like Highway To The AWESOME Zone [http://bit.ly/svmym]

TWITTERAMA

@alex_wags: Pretty obvious Couric was gonna be leaving CBS when we saw her start to eat donuts again:

@StephenAtHome: If anyone in President Donald Trump's cabinet isn't pulling their weight, he won't hesitate to say, "You are the weakest link, goodbye!"

@ChuckGrassley: z

@andrewrsorkin: going to berkshire hathaway annual meeting this weekend. what's the best hashtag? #brkmeeting?

@andrewrsorkin: tough crowd. sample responses: #frontrunning, #insidertrading and #meetingwithrichwhiteguys

ON TAP

TONIGHT

6:00 pm: Washingtonian editor Garrett M. Graff is the guest of honor at a book party celebrating his newly-published work, “The Threat Matrix: The FBI at War in the Age of Global Terror.” Think of it as a WHCD party exhibition game [2323 Wyoming Ave NW].

6:30 pm - 9:00pm: FD and Quinn gillespie host a White House Correspondence Dinner party. Yeah, we would schedule the one at the American Gas Association early, too [AGA, 400 N Capitol Street].

8:00 pm: Lord Huron, whose easy going pop-rock blend is inspired by everything from calypso, folk and psychedelia, performs at DC9. Fans of Yeasayer will enjoy [DC9, 1940 9th Street NW].

TOMORROW

7:30: It’s the second night of previews of Rostard’s Cyrano de Bergerac at the Folger Theatre. That’s right, it’s more than just that thing you read in intermediate French [Folger Theatre, 201 E. Captiol Street SE].

8:00 pm: Suit up, hipsters! David Lynch’s classic Blue Velvet is screened at Artisphere in Northern Virginia. A great way to salvage some of your street cred and/or atone after you ditched Petworth for that condo in Court House [1101 Wilson Boulevard, Rosslyn, VA].

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