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HUFFPOST HILL - Much-Needed White Guy Enters 2012 GOP Primary

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John Thune will raise money for his Heartland Values PAC at a party hosted by the Heartland's most beloved media conglomerate. Florida's legislature voted to ban sex, a smart move considering global warming might submerge the state in the Atlantic. The U.S. might prolong its stay in Iraq (you remember Iraq, right?). And Newt Gingrich, the newly-minted White House candidate who claimed he cheated on his wife because he loves America so much, apparently doesn't give much to charity for the same reason. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, May 11th, 2011:

You too can own a Barack Obama SEAL Team Six action figure

NEWT GINGRICH ANNOUNCES -- AGAIN -- THAT HE'S RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT - As he announced the other day, Newt Gingrich announced today that he is running for president. This announcement really surprised us. Aside from having music that is better suited for a funeral home commercial, his announcement video included references to the 10th Amendment and how he and Ronald Reagan single-handedly defeated communism. Also his website features a picture of Gingrich with the words "Together We Will Win The Future," an inane phrase also employed by the White House and congressional Democrats. Washington really is focus-grouping political parties into irrelevance. [HuffPost]

Not to harp on the music in Gingrich's video, but it abruptly restarts at the :47 second mark. "Paging Pawlenty's video guy." Heh: Harps.

NEWT GINGRICH TREATING HIS CHARITIES LIKE AN ILL WIFE - Meaning he's abandoning them! Get it? GET IT??? Sorry, way too mean (OR NOT). Anyway, HuffPost's Jason Cherkis, with his first dispatch, reports that Newt Gingrich's charitable endeavors have floundered while his political ones, such as his American Solutions PAC, thrive. "Little of Gingrich's largess trickles down to his charity, the Gingrich Foundation, tax records show. The Foundation lists his wife, Callista Gingrich, as its president; Gingrich serves as a board member. Both are unpaid in their roles. Gingrich's charity gets its money almost exclusively from Gingrich Holdings. According to the Gingrich Foundation's 2009 tax records, the charity gave away just $135,000 to various organizations. That same year, Renewing American Leadership, a right-wing Christian non-profit with heavy ties to Gingrich, spent more than double that amount just on direct mailings. Gingrich's biggest gift totaled $30,000 in 2009, tax records show. The money went to Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, a frequent recipient of Gingrich cash through the years. The donation appears to have been used for branding, this time, paying for the 'Newt and Callista Gingrich Scholarship' awarded to music majors studying piano, organ or wind instruments." [HuffPost]

We're worried about Bill Keller's marriage.

DGA CHAIR THINKS INDIANA COULD BE IN PLAY - Sam Stein: "Democratic Governors Association Chair Martin O'Malley spoke to the Huffington Post on Wednesday, offering mostly generic explanations for how Democrats were going to protect its seats and gain some others. He noted that 'the pundits' had predicted Democrats to do well in the gubernatorial races in West Virginia and Kentucky; not so well in Louisiana and Mississippi. Asked for an election that could produce a 'surprise,' he paused, asked his press person for permission to speak. After a few seconds of contemplation, he replied: 'Indiana,' where Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) has announced he would make a bid for the GOP nomination."

TBD's Erik Wemple is heading to the Washington Post where he'll cover local and political media. To get a good sense of Erik's media insights, check out an edition of "Fuego/Frio," his lightning-fast segment where he critiques D.C.-area journalism. It's the greatest mix of media criticism, news print and spittle to ever grace the digital or TV airwaves. [Enjoy, or something.]

L.A. TIMES' NEXT PULITZER ENTRY - California officials will audit a hospital district that awarded its CEO nearly $4 million in retirement payments in addition to his $150,000 annual pension. A state legislative committee voted Wednesday in favor of the audit, which will probe executive compensation at Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System as well as potential conflicts of interest involving hospital board members. The hospital receives some public funding. The audit comes after a report in the Los Angeles Times that the district approved a series of supplemental retirement payments to Samuel Downing, its former CEO, totaling $3.9 million."

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Many states shortchange the jobless by distributing unemployment benefits on debit cards loaded with obnoxious fees, according to a new study by the National Consumer Law Center. Of the 40 states that have switched from paper checks to prepaid debit cards, 22 states' cards charge ATM fees, 24 charge balance inquiry fees, and 28 charge inactivity fees. The cards in Arkansas, Idaho, Nebraska, Ohio, and Oregon come with overdraft fees ranging from $10 to $20. And in Connecticut, Iowa, Rhode Island, and Tennessee, cardholders "must pay for every ATM inquiry or pay a denied transaction fee if they request cash when their balance is insufficient," the study says. [HuffPost]

DOUBLE DOWNER - In a party-line vote Wednesday, a congressional panel approved a Republican bill that would allow states to divert $31 billion worth of federal money for the long-term unemployed and use it to pay down state debt instead. [HuffPost]

DELANEY DELIGHT! "Job Jones," the laid-off 57-year-old business analyst in Riverside County, Calif. brought to you in the Mar. 17 DDD, has scored a job. "I'm a '99er' no more. The Great Bush Depression has finally ended for me. It lasted from 20 July 2007 to 12 May 2011. I was out of work for a mind-numbing 46 months," Jones wrote on his website. "I had a job interview yesterday. It was only the third face-to-face interview I've had since I got laid-off almost four years ago. They just called and want me to start on Thursday. I'm a little in shock actually." Awesome. [AndThisIsOurLife]

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WHITE HOUSE HALF BLINKS, ORDERS SEMI-OBSCURE OFFICIAL TO TESTIFY BEFORE HOUSE OVERSIGHT - A brief standoff between the White House and House Oversight Committee Republicans has come to an end, with the White House agreeing to send Daniel Gordon, an OMB official tasked with managing federal procurement policy, to the panel. Committee Chair Darrell Issa and had originally sought either OMB Director Jack Lew or his number two, Jeffrey Zients, to discuss the impending executive order that government contractors disclose their political contributions. The White House is insisting that the move is in keeping with administration policy as Gordon will only discuss procurement policy and not the executive order. "No administration official can testify on deliberations within the executive branch on presidential policies under review or consideration," a source told Ken Vogel. Also, the decision to send Gordon is a way for the White House to save face by not sending a marquee name to the Hill but not one so obscure that it would come off as a slight. Vogel deserves a medal for writing two pages on this without one use of the word "kabuki." [Politico]

@janinezacharia Obama just nominated Bill Burns to be deputy secretary of state. Excellent choice. Great diplomat to have in the number 2 slot.

LANDRIEU, BEGICH TAKE LONELY STAND FOR BIG OIL - Mary Landrieu and Mark Begich smacked some good corporate sense back into Senate Democrats today, reminding them just who pays both parties' bills. Landrieu bemoaned the "inherent unfairness" of ending Big Oil tax breaks. "It is a gimmick, a gimmick to get the next week of activity, and get some press out there," Begich said. "Picking on one industry because it sounds good, rates good in the polls, gets you a couple of headlines is not what the American people want us to do here. If anything, they're getting fed up with that. ... Let's stop the headline-grabbing and get serious about the energy security." Yes, the American people are fed up with attempts to end Big Oil tax breaks. That's what they're fed up by. Definitely. Nailed it.

Dennis Kucinich says he will not rule out a run for Congress in a state other than Ohio. "I've been approached by supporters across the country -- from Washington to Maine -- to explore options outside Ohio should redistricting force me out of my current district," he wrote in a fundraising appeal to supporters. "Right now, my efforts and focus remain on representing my constituents in the 10th District and fighting for peace and justice, but as we plan for our movement's future, I will consider all of these ideas to keep our voice in Congress."

TPM's Poll Average has swung in the Democrats favor -- 42.4 percent to 42.2 percent -- for the first time since 2009

BURR GETS FINANCE SPOT, SPURNING DEMINT - Richard Burr has been awarded the seat on the Senate Finance Committee vacated by John Ensign. Mitch McConnell made the announcement during a closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans today, a decision that was then ratified by the conference. Jim DeMint's office had gone on record about his interest in the seat, something he has sought for years.

In case you thought there was a tiny chance that some Republicans will support a clean debt ceiling vote, here's Kevin McCarthy today: "I can tell you as the whip, there is not one Republican vote on a negative-debt-limit bill where no cuts are proposed." So ... that's a "no"?

BIN LADEN DEATH PHOTO TO BE SHOWN TO SELECT GROUP OF LAWMAKERS - Usually, exclusivity is denoted by access to a popular club, or by having first dibs on a hot new tech product, or by always being privy to the latest gossip. In the totally healthy social environment of Washington D.C. -- where pear-shaped lobbyists can coax 21-year-old interns into bed with Dave Matthews tickets -- it's the insiders who get to lay their eyes on a bloodied, bullet-riddled corpse. Members of the intelligence committees and other top members of Congress will view the photo of bin Laden's body today or tomorrow at CIA headquarters. Count Harry Reid as a non-participant. "I don't want to see it," the majority leader said to reporters today. We're anticipating a Washington Life cover featuring a bunch of high-level lawmakers standing in front of a blown-up photo of a dead bin Laden with the headline "INSIDERS." [Daily Caller]

News broke that Navy SEALs reportedly confiscated Osama bin Laden's journal during the raid on his compound. His burn book would have been a more fruitful source of intelligence, but this is a great find, nonetheless.

U.S. ANTICIPATING LONGER-THAN-EXPECTED STAY IN IRAQ - Sure, our troops have withdrawn from Iraq's cities and Saddam Hussein is now passing his time in a flame-engulfed hellscape where the TV only plays "Burn Notice" reruns and the radio only plays the sound of Paula Dean screaming, but that doesn't mean we're getting out of that country any time soon. In fact, the Obama administration is currently debating whether to extend military operations in Iraq PAST the December 31st, 2011 withdrawal date. "[W]e are willing to entertain a request for continued assistance, consistent with our commitment to a long-term partnership with Iraq -- but the ball is in the Iraqis' court to ask," Pentagon Spokeswoman Elizabeth Robbins said in a statement. As it stands right now, the U.S. has about 47,000 troops still stationed in Iraq along with roughly 63,000 contractors. The personnel exodus is scheduled to begin this summer ... we'll see. [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]

How the Chipotle raids explain what's wrong with enforcement-only immigration policy [Dave Jamieson]

"House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is reconsidering her support for a Catholic priest nominated as House chaplain after learning that he works for a Jesuit group ordered to pay $166 million for more than 400 claims of child sexual abuse. A spokesman for the California Democrat told Roll Call on Tuesday night that Speaker John Boehner's office did not tell Pelosi about the March settlement -- the largest ever by a single religious order to victims of sexual abuse -- by the Rev. Patrick Conroy's current employer, the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus." This nearly confirms that nothing in Washington is immune from politicizing. If a showdown erupts over the House Clerk's association with Bill Ayers, we quit. [Roll Call]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Cat takes on its most challenging and scary opponent yet: a ball.

There's a decent chance that Florida's legislature passed a law banning sex. That'll sting when the 2030 Census rolls around.

KEVIN THE INTERN'S 'THIS DAY IN HISTORY' - May 11th, 1977: President Carter Works For reasons unknown, this day is excruciatingly detailed in the President's White House diary. The President returned from The United Kingdom late the night before, went back to the Oval Office at 7:30 the next morning, spent hours taking calls, found time for a 45-minute lunch with the First Lady, and left at 4:34pm. At 4:48, Carter went to the White House tennis courts to play with his OMB Director, then had dinner with the First Lady. They then attended a performance of "The Barber of Seville" at the Kennedy Center, and went backstage to visit the conductor and lead soprano singer. The motorcade returned to The White House at 11:20 PM, and the President was tucked in twenty minutes later. A day in the life of the man from Plains.

COMFORT FOOD

- This paper-thin phone is going to be the bridge between the iPhone 8 and the iBrain 1. [http://bit.ly/kqxqLf]

- Endless rope climbing machine is a great source of exercise/metaphor for man's endless and hopeless battle against death. [http://bit.ly/kRqbNn]

- Some photographs of Faulkner's visit to West Point. Try not to choke on the Americana. [http://bit.ly/kBKBG0]

- A Seattle-area man took hi-res photos of every observable part of space from Earth and compiled them in one, awe-inspiring graphic. [http://bit.ly/m5Yfbq]

- Is your heart melted? Let us fix that for you: "Baby seal can't believe it's being released into the wild" [http://huff.to/lSkSlL]

- Those of you who think DJing is just the art of pressing a few buttons, check out this jaw-dropping improvisation from Reggie Watts. [http://bit.ly/mfK2EM]

- What happens when you microwave a bar of soap? Funny you should ask, because we have just the YouTube video for you. [http://chzb.gr/jXYsYg]

- "Dogs in Gas Masks" might not be the best collection of photographs for a section called "Comfort Food" but here you are, nonetheless. [http://bit.ly/js0hTR]

TWITTERAMA

@OsamasDiary: Dear diary, Its me again, Osama. The dye job worked! Keith Hernandez and Walt Frazier are geniuses.

@FakeJimVandeHei: That's what she said RT @TheFix BREAKING: Newt is in.

@brianebutler: Sadly, Bin Laden journal filled entirely with "Mrs. Osama Bin Bieber" doodles.

@DaveWeigel: DEVELOPING: US intelligence suggests OBL struck down, more powerful than you can ever imagine...

ON TAP

TONIGHT

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Newly-minted Senator Dean Heller passes the hat on behalf of his campaign for a full six-year term. Manufacturing interests, such as Boeing PAC, will be in attendence [National Republican Senatorial Committee, 425 2nd Street NE].

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm: Jim Clyburn attends his second financial services dinner in as many days. The only thing that bothers us more than the coziness with the financial services industry is that the event is being held at Carmine's, which is possibly the most disgusting restaurant in history. Wayyyy too much garlic [Carmine's, 425 7th Street, NW].

TOMORROW

8:00 am - 9:00 am: Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, whose bellwether San Francisco district necessitates a strenuous fundraising schedule lest if fall into Republican hands, attends a campaign event in the Capitol [The Liaison Hotel, 415 New Jersey Avenue NW].

8:30 am - 9:30 am: Mark Critz, who won that special election for Jack Murtha's seat, celebrates a year in Congress. We're not sure that's something you celebrate so much as quietly observe with a large glass of bourbon [Bullfeathers of Capitol Hill, 410 First Street SE].

8:30 am: Ask not what Dudinsky & Associates and do for you, but what you can do for Dudinsky & Associates. Mike Crapo pitches some GOP heavy hittes at the law firm [Dudinsky & Associates, 305 E Capitol Street].

8:30 am - 9:30 am: Richard Burr is so ahead of the curve that his PAC's name is "Next Century Fund." Dude, this guy is FUNDING THE 22ND CENTURY. Mitch McConnell will make an appearance [Caucus Room, 401 9th Street NW].

8:30 am: Thursday's fundraiser for John Thune's Heartland Values PAC is hosted by Clear Channel PAC at the Fluor Townhouse. How Heartland-y [Fluor Townhouse, 403 East Capitol Street SE].

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