POLITICS
05/20/2011 04:24 pm ET | Updated Jul 20, 2011

HUFFPOST HILL - Jon Huntsman Latest Addition To Team Individual Mandate

As billions of soon-to-be-Raptured Christians prepare to depart this Earthly realm, the rest of us are preparing for a world free of mayonnaise, country music and sex-related guilt. George W. Bush is being paid millions to speak, which is kind of like paying Roseanne Barr millions to sing the National Anthem. Mitch Daniels lost a fight with a door. Past support for an individual mandate is to the 2012 GOP field what high-waisted, lightly-colored bluejeans are to anyone who was an adult in the early 90s. And now that Tim Pawlenty is jumping in the race, the appeal of the 2012 GOP field is plummeting faster than Randy Savage from the top turnbuckle (rest in peace, Macho Man). This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, May 20th, 2011 ... and if the Rapture does come tomorrow, it's been a real blast:

JON HUNTSMAN USED TO LIKE THE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE - Former Utah governor and Barack Obama employee Jon Huntsman used to support the individual mandate, Jon Ward and Jason Cherkis report. According to Utah officials who were involved with drafting the mandate-free health bill that Governor Huntsman signed into law in 2008, Huntsman actually wanted a mandate to be included. "Dr. David Sundwall, who was executive director of Utah's Department of Health under Huntsman, tells a different story. One month before the 2004 election, Huntsman invited Sundwall to his home to lobby him to join his administration in the event he won. Sundwall said in an interview this week that he asked Huntsman what he wanted to do. 'He said, 'I'd like everyone in Utah to have health insurance. It's something that all of us long for. This business of the uninsured costs us a lot of money,'' Sundwall said. 'It made sense to me.' Sundwall accepted the job. As soon as Huntsman was sworn in as governor, the administration convened a group on health care to hash out a reform plan. They met for regular dinners at a supporter's house near the governor's residence. The group concluded, Sundwall said, that you couldn't do reform without a mandate." Normally, opposition primaries are good for the president because the candidates tear each other apart. This time, it's because they all make the president's arguments. What a world! [HuffPost]

The White House released a list of eight people who have been pardoned by President Obama. Several of the pardoned had committed minor, pot-related offenses. One person, swear to God, was convicted for "Aiding and abetting the possession and sale of illegal American alligator hides." We're guessing that's a play for Florida voters, or something. Congrats to those eight people ... too bad the world is ending tomorrow.

HUNTSMAN: U.S. STRATEGY IN AFGHANISTAN IS MISGUIDED - Man, this guy likes individual mandates AND he a giant, war-hating, kombucha-sipping, Etsy-browsing, Subaru-driving, Warby Parker-ordering peacenik? What a great Republican candidate! Huntsman made the claim in an interview with George Stephanopoulos that aired on "Good Morning America" today. "In terms of foreign policy, we have a generational opportunity, George, to reset our position in the world," he said. "And it must be done based upon our deployments in all corners of the world, wherever we find ourselves, how affordable those deployments are, whether it's a good use of our young men and women. Whether it's in our core national security and interest. We're fighting an enemy that is far different than any we have got before. It's a nontraditional kind of war, and I think we need to step back, recalibrate how we go about protecting our borders and protecting our people, and resetting our position in the world." For what it's worth, our deployment numbers will probably be a lot lower after the Rapture. [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]

Mitch Daniels 2012: He'll take on the terrorists the way he takes on his door: head on.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - A Republican member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives says he wants to reform the state's unemployment insurance system in part because the way benefits are currently calculated lets workers take a paid vacation for most of the year. "This is a fairness thing," Rep. Scott Perry said in an interview with The Huffington Post. "What we're trying to accomplish here is to make sure the system is solvent for people who are truly needy." [HuffPost]

Old Jews Telling Jokes ... For Medicare

TENNESSEE REPUBLICAN FAILS MATH - "We're already now at 79 weeks,' said Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey about a bill that would restore a lapsed chunk of unemployment benefits. "This would put it over two years." Except it totally wouldn't, duder, because you're talking about another 20 weeks of benefits. 79 + 20 does not equal two years. But we get your point: The unemployed are lazy. [Times Free Press]

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

OBAMA MEETS WITH NETANYAHU: AWKWAAARRDDDD - Have you ever bumped into your ex in a coffee shop a day after breaking up with them over the phone? President Obama feels your pain. A day after the president called for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, based around the 1967 borders, a move that seriously pissed off Likud Party types and conservative Israeli groups, he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House today. Their meeting took much longer than originally planned, no doubt to find some concealer for the bruises and a couple extra boxes of Kleenex. "Remember that before 1967, Israel was all of nine miles wide; it's half the width of the Washington Beltway," Netanyahu said. "These were not the boundaries of peace. They were the boundaries of repeated wars." [NYT]

Jay Carney's briefing was, well, incredibly testy: "Anybody who knows this issue knows this has been an understood starting point," he said. "It's not some radical new departure from where we've been and from where parties have been."

Netanyahu's message in the White House guest book: "With all best wishes for our common quest for peace, security and democracy in a rapidly changing world."

PAWLENTY TO OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCE CAMPAIGN ON MONDAY - The erstwhile Minnesota governor, who has already announced an exploratory committee and is widely expected to take the plunge, will officially enter the race on Monday, AP reports. Pawlenty will make the announcement in Iowa and then travel to Florida, New Hampshire, New York and D.C. Pawlenty's exploratory committee announcement video, if you recall, was basically Reagan's "Morning in America" but without a Steadicam and with a nasty speed habit. If Pawlenty's video for his EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE was that intense, can you imagine the type of Michael Baby ridiculousness that he'll break out for the actual CAMPAIGN video? Our guess is it involves a laser light show, the Blue Angels, a cameo from Shia LaBeouf, ample amounts of and the 1990s Chicago Bulls intro music. [AP]

IT BEGINNNNSSSSS: THIRD PARTY GROUP RUNS FIRST AD OF GOP PRIMARY - Priorities USA Action, the group started by Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, today launched the first ad of the 2012 primary from a major political entity. It's all there: The low-budget, semi-comical sound affects. The smarmy and sexy but nevertheless professional lady narrator. The accusations of political inconsistency. The music that sounds like it was scored by Hans Zimmer's intern. IT'S ALL HAPPENING, PEOPLE. "Newt Gingrich says the Republican plan that would essentially end Medicare is too 'radical,'" the ad starts. "Governor [Nikki] Haley thinks the plan is courageous, and Gingrich shouldn't be cutting conservatives off at the knees. Mitt Romney says he's 'on the same page' as Paul Ryan, who wrote the plan to essentially end Medicare. But with Mitt Romney, you have to wonder ... which page is he on today?" Given the torrent of denouncements and reversals, it's actually pretty difficult to follow. The point is: Everything is in black and white and scary music is playing. Therefore, you probably won't like the people on the screen. [HuffPost's Sam Stein]

SALARY TIP - Ask to be paid double for working the day of the Rapture. It won't work but will GREATLY improve your bargaining position come raise time.

How guilty does King and Spalding feel about briefly defending the anti-gay DOMA law? At their happy hour for summer associates last night, they carted a frozen strawberry daiquiri machine up to their building's rooftop...by the way, that's also OUR rooftop.

GEORGE W. BUSH HAS MADE $15 MILLION SPEAKING - File alongside "Shaquille O'Neal Recruited By Celtics For Free Throw Skills," "Jennifer Aniston Lauded For Her Boyfriend-Keeping Abilities" and "George W. Bush Paid Millions To Run Company." "Bush's standard speaking fee is reportedly between $100,000 and $150,000. David Sherzer, a spokesman for the former president, told iWatch News that since Bush left office he has delivered almost 140 paid talks, at home and abroad. Those speeches have earned Bush about $15 million, a conservative estimate, following in the golden path blazed by his predecessor, Bill Clinton. Almost all of Bush's speeches are closed to the press. Bush uses the Washington Speakers Bureau to arrange his paid speaking gigs." [iWatch News]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - While you wile away the hours until the rapture, why not check out this list of previous raptures.

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Some possible showers, but it's really shaping up to be a beautiful evening. Temperatures will be in the high-50s, maybe even 60. Tomorrow: Now this is going to be beautiful. Sunny skies, highs in the 80s. Enjoy it. The only downside is that there's a 2 percent chance of fire, and about a 3 percent chance of brimstone. Sunday... if there is a Sunday: Highs in the low-to-mid 80s, with a 50/50 chance of late afternoon thundershowers popping up. It's not big enough to put a damper on your day, or ascent into Heaven, for that matter. Thanks, JB!

COMFORT FOOD

- George Takei cut another gay-rights video in opposition to a bill in Tennessee that would forbid schoolteachers from discussing homosexuality. Like the rest of his videos, this one is hilarious. [http://bit.ly/iuSkI1]

- Speaking of, the whole argument that gay people can't adopt should be made bunk by this cat, which handles babies better than a lot of straight people. [http://chzb.gr/k4OGqG]

- This Geo Metro limousine is what your pizza delivery guy rents when he and his buddies go to Vegas. [http://bit.ly/jbXEpY]

- A cell phone app that unlocks your door. Soon, "forgetting to charge your phone" will be the new "forgetting your keys." [http://bit.ly/mSRhme]

- Someone got IMed by a credit card-stealing AIM bot and actually scared it away, somehow. [http://bit.ly/mjPYpi]

- Vintage cereal boxes. What children/poor college students/people with no self esteem/stoners ate back in the day. [http://bit.ly/ihQDmF]

- An author opened a bookstore in New York City that only sells his book about the Mars Rover. Doesn't he know that in Walmart, they have ENTIRE AISLES of Mars Rover books? [http://bit.ly/mudi90]

- There's an iPhone app that will identify a tree through a photo of its leaf. Great, right? How many times have you been at a party and been all, "Man, what leaf is this? I LOVE this leaf!" [http://bit.ly/iqAoYV]

TWITTERAMA

@DCJourno: tweeps --- When I source "a little bird" in my morning note, it is definitely NOT @billburton716. I swear. Really.

@delrayser: Having a going-away party for a coworker's last day today. Which seems silly, considering it's EVERYONE's last day today.

@brianbeutler: "Tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes afterwards" -Rebecca Black. Never have I wanted this to be true more than now.

ON TAP

Tonight - Tomorrow: Apparently sunny California isn't enough. Golden State Congressman Joe Baca and his donors head out for a "All Sports Weekend" in Miami. It's at a golf resort, so we're guessing there will be a focus on one sport in particular [Blue Monster at Doral Golf Resort, 4400 NW 87th Ave, Miami].

Tonight - Sunday: Art galleries and art galleries and and art galleries and art galleries and art galleries and art galleries and art galleries and art galleries. Ray Lujan treats his political benefactors to a "Santa Fe Weekend Getaway" [Inn & Spa at Loretto, 211 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe].

Tomorrow: The "Fourth Annual Peter Benchley Ocean Awards," which is like the Nickelodeon Kid Choice Awards of the ocean conservancy world, honor individuals who have helped make our waters less disgusting. [The George Washington University Marvin Center 800 21st Street NW].

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