12/12/2011 06:22 pm ET | Updated Feb 11, 2012

HUFFPOST HILL - A Nomination Tom Clancy Can Be Proud Of

Like the U.S. dollar, the value of a Newt Gingrich fidelity pledge has dropped precipitously over the last decade. The GOP is torpedoing one of President Obama's nominees because it thinks the person was conceived in an Ian Fleming fever dream. And America's trade gap is perilously wide, but an anti-gay Republican lawmaker in Alabama is doing his part by boosting our exports of sperm to New Zealand's growing lesbian sector. The name is Pool. Gene Pool. Sorry. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, December 12th, 2011:

SENATE VOTES ON AMBASSADOR WITH SEXY AND MYSTERIOUS PAST, GEORGE CLOONEY MAYBE GETS HIS NEXT PASSION PROJECT - Every day, a lot of strange accusations are flung to and fro in Washington. However it's rare -- even in this city -- that somebody's nomination is derailed because they are accused of dating a Cuban spy (That sound you hear is Graydon Carter trying to secure the interview rights). Mari Carmen Aponte is also accused of some other, less insane things -- like supporting reproductive rights and such -- but those criticisms pale in comparison to the espionage thing that Republicans are using to block her nomination to be America's ambassador to El Salvador. Norman Eisen, nominated to be ambassador to the Czech Republic, is also up for consideration. AP: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the two qualified public servants and argued that if the GOP blocks their nominations, it will be for 'naked partisan reasons.' Opposition to Aponte stems from unfounded rumors about her relationship with a Cuban-American decades ago and whether Cuban intelligence tried to recruit her. The GOP has said Eisen made misrepresentations to Congress about the firing of a federal official." [AP]

TEXAS GOV'T IN CHAOS WHILE SUPREME COURT DECIDES WHETHER CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS CAN BE SHAPED LIKE BARF STAINS - Tonight in Roll Call from Shira Toeplitz: "[T]he U.S. Supreme Court's decision to hear the Texas redistricting case next month has forced Lone Star State politics into chaos in the meantime -- including the presidential and Senate races. The court's future decision will affect the boundaries of the state's 36 U.S. House districts and even Republicans privately concede they were surprised the high court took up the redistricting case. The high court scheduled oral arguments for Jan. 9."

@samsteinhp: From the Department of Unfortunate Timing: yfrog.com/h4qxxtfcj

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Tom Ballard of Lexington, Ky. wants Congress to strike a deal, otherwise he'll be one of nearly 2 million whose benefits will prematurely expire in January. Ballard said he lost his job as a supervisor for a thoroughbred racing company in August 2010 and that his current tier of Emergency Unemployment Compensation will run out at the very beginning of 2012. "I'll pay my rent in January but as of February 1, I'm homeless," Ballard said. Ballard, 59, said his job search has been dismal. He said that when he omitted his earlier years of work from his resume, he landed several interviews, but managers didn't want to hire him after meeting him. "I'm too young to retire but too old to hire," he said. He said there may be "bad apples" not sincerely looking for work, but the vast majority of the jobless are in their predicament through no fault of their own. "There are those of us sincerely looking for employment, and the jobs aren't there," he said. "And if you're my age, even if the job is there, you're probably not going to get it." [HuffPost]

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

STEP ASIDE, FARMVILLE - "Editor's Note: To better serve our readers in the final days of this Congressional session, we have lifted the paywall on rollcall.com until Congress adjourns. -- Scott Montgomery, Editor" [Roll Call]

SUPREME COURT TO TAKE UP SB 1070 - It's unclear whether the justices will weigh in on the contentious "Is saying 'Illegal' offensive?" case. That might be bounced back to a lower court. Mike Sacks: "The Supreme Court took another step into the political fray on Monday morning when it agreed to determine the fate of several key provisions in Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB 1070. The case, Arizona v. United States, tests states' abilities to pass their own immigration measures in an area of the law typically reserved for the federal government. Debates over immigration and health care have dominated the Republican primary contest and will surely play an outsized role once the Republican nominee squares off against President Obama. The justices' decision to rule this term on the constitutionality of both SB 1070 and the Affordable Care Act will place the Court at the storm center of American politics." [HuffPost]

@ProPublica: Obama has pardoned twice as many turkeys (4) as minorities (2). Our full series: bit.ly/rIiJ97

Jon Huntsman says he will not run as an independent. You may remember Huntsman as the father of those social media savvy women, or as America's foremost motocross aficionado, or as the governor of Utah. Oh! You might remember him as that guy who tried to be the most powerful person in the world. But probably not. Probably just the other things. [Salt Lake Tribune]

GINGRICH CONFIRMS WHAT WE ALREADY KNEW ABOUT ANDY STERN - Do you remember that famous New Yorker cover with the Hasidic man and black woman kissing? Well, someone needs to ring Art Spiegelman, 'cause have we got something for him! Sam Stein: "In his book 'Real Chance: From the World That Fails to the World That Works,' Gingrich praises the SEIU head, who remains a close adviser to the president. Pitching the need for conservatives to respect organized labor, while simultaneously pushing back against some of Labor's more cherished legislative goals, he wrote the following: '...Andy Stern, the head of the Service Employees International Union, is the union leader who probably best understands the challenge of the world market and the need to make American union members productive in the face of world competition. Sadly, he is a distinct minority among union leaders.'" UPDATE: Thankfully, he's now in the private sector, working directly for private equity barons, where he should've been from the beginning. [HuffPost]

Elijah Cummings addressed the AFL-CIO today. You can watch it here, but the upshot is rich people's pay is too damn high.

CONTRACT IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES WITH AMERICA: NEWT GINGRICH SIGNS ANTI-ADULTERY, ANTI-GAY MARRIAGE PLEDGE - Do you think this is a rehab situation where Newt makes the pledge and then shows up to meetings where they give him little bracelets for every month he's stayed faithful? "Newt Gingrich sent a letter Monday to an influential Iowa social conservative group affirming his commitment to marital fidelity and commitment to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act as president. The letter, published on The Family Leader's website, is Gingrich's response to the group's Marriage Vow, a pledge signed by several other Republican presidential candidates that Gingrich had previously declined to sign. Gingrich pledged in the letter to 'to uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others.'...Gingrich has been married three times and has a public history of infidelity. Vander Plaats told the conservative Weekly Standard magazine in comments published Monday that although Gingrich's past is a concern, 'part of our faith is forgiveness.'" [The Hill]

Jaweed Kaleem: "But while Gingrich, a Southern Baptist-turned-Catholic who has arguably run one of the most religious campaigns to become the Republican presidential nominee, is revisiting familiar ground, such rhetoric may run up against the reality of his legislative accomplishments. In part because of Gingrich's own efforts, there is increasing rapprochement between church and state in America....As House speaker, Gingrich was hailed for leading Congress to enact a major welfare reform law. What's less known is that the legislation included a historic provision allowing faith-based groups to win government contracts to run social service programs, from job training and tutoring to rehabilitation and gang prevention." [HuffPost]

@samyoungman: John Rocker and Gary Busey like Newt. This might come down to the critical Andy Dick endorsement.

ROMNEY AND PAUL TRY TO SLOW DOWN GINGRICH - C'mon guys, we're talking about a dude who has been married three times, said America should be attacked by terrorists so we have a better understanding of our vulnerabilities and has campaigned with all the seriousness of Pat Paulsen on Lunesta...and he's still in front. At this point, why aren't the Republican campaigns just standing back and hoping the latest "it" candidate burns out before January 3rd? Jon Ward: "The Romney campaign launched an anti-Gingrich website that is perhaps most notable for its unsubtle web address: unreliableleader.com. The site shows a picture of Gingrich, the former House Speaker from Georgia, with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), highlighting their joint appearance in an ad supporting legislation to curb carbon emissions and reduce global warming. It also features a research document that reminds readers of Gingrich's criticism of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) plan to overhaul Medicare...Paul's campaign, meanwhile, launched a nearly two-minute web video Monday morning attacking Gingrich as an 'insider' who was 'selling access' as an adviser to Freddie Mac. 'If you've been Speaker of the House, you're always an insider,' Gingrich is shown saying. The ad also hits Gingrich for flip-flopping on the 2008 TARP bailout of Wall Street and for his support for a health care mandate." [HuffPost]

Remember how good you felt in high school when you learned one of the cool kids knew your name? "Mitt Romney's latest New Hampshire endorsement comes from an unusual source: an influential member of the tea party. Tea party activist Tom Thomson said in New Hampshire on Monday that Romney was his choice for the GOP presidential nomination. 'Washington desperately needs an outsider with business skills like Mitt Romney,' Thomson said in a statement. Thomson, a tree farmer and son of former New Hampshire governor Mel Thomson, is an influential conservative activist in the Granite State. He is the honorary chairman of the Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire chapter and organizes annual tea party rallies at the New Hampshire State House on tax day. The endorsement is something of a coup for the Romney team, which hasn't had much luck wooing tea partiers." [WaPo]


"I'm proud of my gun, and I pooed in space." -- Rick Perry's crazy "don't ask, don't tell" ad gets the bad lip reading treatment

WHAT IF GOD WAS ONE OF US? JUST A LESBIAN-IMPREGNATING, HOMOPHOBIC GOP LAWMAKER LIKE ONE OF US? - "An anti-gay Alabama Republican was reportedly making secret sperm donations to at least nine New Zealand women he met over the internet, unbeknownst to his wife back in America. Bill Johnson, who made a failed bid for governor of Alabama in 2010, anonymously donated sperm to lesbian couples in New Zealand, according to a report by the New Zealand Herald." [TPM]


JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: The clouds will clear a bit, but that will only mean that the moon will look much colder than usual. It will be at the freezing mark, so be careful in the morning when you head to your car/metro/bus. Tomorrow: Just a tad bit warmer, but still pretty cold. Thanks, JB!

By @bradjshannon!

- Piano catapult isn't very successful, but throws a piano farther than we could. A+ for effort. [http://bit.ly/rIslt2]

- Truth in advertising: [http://www.devastatingexplosions.com/]

- If a drinking straw and a jet engine had a baby, which then transformed into a backpack? [http://bit.ly/th5Ni4]

- Crazy pogo people need to get a life, as long as they don't get distracted from making crazy pogo videos. [http://bit.ly/thOlxF]

- Jaws gets a much needed makeover. [http://bit.ly/totJ5v]

- Wild dog does NOT take requests. [http://bit.ly/um2JhN]

- @adjoro: Star Trek aired 10mins of auto-destruct sequences. Our top scientists didn't think of it for drones? [http://youtu.be/lqe-mr_zBdg]

- The long-anticipated single from David Attenborough's debut album. [http://bit.ly/skW4GK]


@Wise_Kaplan: I mean, I wouldn't call me a "mystery man," I just threw my arm over Ben's shoulder and said, "Look, kid, it has "buzz" in the title."...And then I showed him the view out my office of the sun setting over Parsippany, NJ and whispered, "Ben of BuzzFeed, it's your time."...And he said, "Look, boss, it does have a nice ring, but I got a good thing goin at Politico." And I slapped him, twice, hard...And I said, "DiMaggio had been a big star as a minor league player. Then the Yankees buy Joe DiMaggio. He travels to spring training. See?"...And Ben Smith replies, "Not helpful, boss. I think I'm gonna stay with Politico." And so I lift a paperweight and smash the window...And the freezing air is rushing in, and I grab Ben by the scruff, lift him and hold him out over the 6 foot drop to the grass...And the wind's howling and I say, "LOOK COCK SUCKER, IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE BEN OF BUZZFEED HOW ABOUT YOU 'FALL' OUT THIS FUCKING WINDOW?"...And Ben says, "Well it's just a 6 foot drop into shrubbery, boss." And that's when I knew the kid was gonna be alright...And so we're sitting there, me and Ben Smith, at Sebastian's Schnitzelhaus, each with a steaming plate of Schweine Schnitzel... So Smith and I went for schnitzel...And Ben puts down his Schweine Schnitzel, and says, "Look, did Jonah put you up to this?" And so I put down my Schweine Schnitzel™...And I grab his Schweine Schnitzel, I'm not letting go, his eyes are watering, and I say, "LAST TIME I CHECKED, JONAH WAS IN A WHALE, SON!"...And I release his Schweine Schnitzel... And we have a little strudel...So, if that makes me the "mystery man" I guess I plead guilty. [@WiseKaplan]

By @tylerkingkade


5:00pm - 8:00pm: John Larson planning to raise money for his PAC over cocktails. [1100 New York Ave NW]

6:00pm - 8:00pm: Whoa, John Larson is a busy guy; he'll be doing two separate fundraisers tonight. [425 7th Street. NW]

6:00pm: A wine reception in English at the French Embassy will soon turn into a buzzkill when Prof. Pierro Laszlo comes in to talk about how consumerism is going causing so much pollution. [4101 Reservoir Rd NW]

6:00pm: Republican Kelly Ayotte has a fundraising reception tonight in Virginia. [6209 Foxcroft Rd., Alexandria, Va.]


8:00am: Tom Reed and Mike Rogers will get some breakfast at the Capitol Hill Club. [300 First Street SE]

8:00am: UPS raises money for Chuck Grassley's Hawkeye PAC to celebrate the postal service's demise. [421 New Jersey Ave SE]

8:00am - 9:30am: Elijah Cummings holds a fundraiser at Johnny's Half Shell. [400 North Capitol Street NW #175]

8:30am: Sander Levin's Super PAC collects super amounts of money at the 21st Century Townhouse. [434 New Jersey Ave SE]

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffingtonpost.com), Ryan Grim (ryan@huffingtonpost.com) or Arthur Delaney (arthur@huffingtonpost.com). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e