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HUFFPOST HILL - Santorum Everywhere

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Rick Santorum is living proof that there ARE second acts in American lives (speaking of narrative arcs, isn't "Santorum" a denouement of sorts?). He pulled off a conservative hat trick by out-moralizing the Catholic Church, out-lobbying K Street and out-sweater vesting your Republican dad. If there's a political game ball, someone please give it to Rick Santorum. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, January 5th, 2012:

RICK SANTORUM'S LOBBYIST BOOT CAMP - Unlike most political boot camps, this one featured fewer George Mason alums in rep ties and more baskets of croissants. Paul Blumenthal: "Behind the sweater vests, the faith and family, and the self-definition as a congressional reformer lies another Rick Santorum. This Rick Santorum favors big business, curries favor from lobbyists, and helped to bind the Washington influence industry to the Republican Party while serving in Congress. Beginning in 2001, after Republicans seized control of Congress and the White House, then-Sen. Santorum (R-Pa.) began hosting Tuesday morning meetings with a select group of lobbyists. These meetings were part of a larger plan -- originally launched in the 1990s by Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), conservative activist Grover Norquist and others when the GOP retook the House of Representatives after 40 years of Democratic control -- to pressure lobbying firms and trade associations to dump their Democratic lobbyists and replace them with Republicans. Named after the Washington business corridor famous for housing lobbying firms, the K Street Project was aimed at installing a permanent Republican majority in Washington." [HuffPost]

Santorum thinks the Catholic Church isn't conservative enough, which is kind of like thinking Megadeth doesn't thrash hard enough. Zach Carter and Joy Resmovits: "[Santorum] is a Catholic, and while many of his more socially conservative positions have endeared him to the evangelical community, they actually conflict with the teachings of his own church...Santorum has been one of the most prominent congressional defenders of intelligent design and the teaching of creationism. But the Catholic Church has long been supportive of evolution. In 1950, Pope Pius XII declared that there is no conflict between the Catholic faith and the scientific study of evolution, and Pope John Paul II went further in 1996, stating that science had produced an enormous body of persuasive evidence in favor of evolution...In addition to evolution, Santorum has broken with both the Church and scientists on the issue of climate change. Santorum is a staunch climate change denier, declaring climate change a 'scheme' of the 'left' that serves as 'an excuse for more government control of your life.'" [HuffPost]

You know American politics is evolving when you start seeing "Why Won't Candidate X Listen To The Pope More?" stories.

A 'BITTERSWEET VICTORY' FOR THE BORED LAZY OVERPAID BUREAUCRAT - HuffPost Hill's favorite unfair stereotype, the Bored Lazy Overpaid Bureaucrat (BLOB), took a break from break-taking to send us this update that will no doubt make a Human Events editor pass out from exasperation: "I have some fantastic (and equally tragic) news. I finished Angry Birds!! My satisfaction at outwitting those cute little egg-thieving green pigs is overshadowed, however, by the realization that my success brings with it the loss of something to do to fill the endless hours at work. In other news, I considered making a list of new year's resolutions...things like 'go to work at least once a week' or 'stay at work for at least 4 consecutive hours once a month,' but let's be honest: I'm about as likely to stick to those as all the assholes crowding my gym will stick to their 'get in shape' resolutions past mid-February. Percent of day spent actually doing work: who are we kidding? I stopped doing actual work some time back in November. Likelihood of working from home all of next week: extremely high." You're clearly in the early stages of a depressive spiral, BLOB!

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The government fired more people last year than any other sector of the economy. [HuffPost]

DOWNER PRO - Tomorrow, as on the first Friday of every month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will announce the new unemployment rate. It could be a good one: Initial claims for unemployment are the lowest they've been since 2008, before jobs really started going into the wood chipper. And ADP, the private payroll firm, said in its Thursday pregame version of the official jobs report that the economy added more than 300,000 jobs in December. Or maybe the jobs report will be another wash. The ADP estimate could be affected by a seasonal boost you won't see in in the BLS report. Also, paradoxically, if the job market's getting stronger, the unemployment rate could go up as a result of more people looking for work and therefore being counted as part of the labor force. Another thing that has been reliably discouraging lately is the number of very-long-term jobless, currently hovering around 2 million. Nobody has any idea what to do with these people. Oh, and here's another thing guaranteed in tomorrow's jobs report: More public sector layoffs.

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FLASH: SENATE STAFFERS HAVE SKEWED SENSE OF RIGHT AND WRONG - Never change, kids! "Last summer, wildfires sped by drought turned large chunks of Texas into a moonscape. Nationally, 2011 saw the third worst wildfire season in the United States since 1960: More than 8.7 million acres of land burned. It's the job of congressional staffers working on energy and natural resources issues to know facts like this. But some of them have a more urgent and perverse interest in this particular statistic: they're participants in a macabre annual office pool in which they try to predict how many acres of U.S. land will burn in wildfires. Frank Gladics, a professional staffer on the Republican side of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, runs the contest. On Tuesday he sent out 2011's results in an email that was perhaps forwarded a little too widely. (Grist managed to obtain a copy, after all.) Participants in 2011 ranged from lowly legislative aides to powerful staffers, like Bruce Evans, the Republican staff director for the Senate Appropriations Committee. The entrants Grist identified all worked on the Senate side of the Hill." Winner buys at Irish Times. Wait. Aren't wildfire sort of good, sometimes?[Grist]

LIGHTS, CAMERA, A GROSS BREACH OF NATIONAL SECURITY! - Andrea Stone: "The Pentagon has launched an investigation into whether the White House released classified information about the killing of Osama bin Laden to a Hollywood filmmaker who had planned to release a movie about the successful raid just weeks before the 2012 election. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, announced Thursday that the Defense Department has heeded his request that its inspector general look into a published report that the Obama administration gave 'top-level access to the most classified mission in history' to Sony Pictures and filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow. He asked for the investigation in August after New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that the White House was pulling out the stops for the Oscar-winning director of 'The Hurt Locker' for a film that 'will no doubt reflect the president's cool, gutsy decision against shaky odds.' White House spokesman Jay Carney brushed aside King's allegations at the time as 'ridiculous' and 'simply false.'" To be fair, the same thing happened with the makers of Spy Kids 2. [HuffPost]

ROMNEY ADVISER TOTALLY HEARTS YOUR HUDDLED MASSES YEARNING TO BE FREE - Salon: "An informal adviser to the Mitt Romney campaign recently lobbied Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act, stances that are at odds with Romney's increasingly hard-line position on the immigration in general and opposition to the DREAM Act in particular. Longtime Republican operative Charlie Black, who was a top aide to the John McCain campaign in 2008, has joined Romney's 'circle of informal advisers,' the New York Times reported this week. After McCain lost, Black rejoined as chairman the high-powered bipartisan lobbying firm he founded in the 1980s, which is now called Prime Policy Group. Disclosure records show that in early 2011, Black, personally lobbied for Wal-Mart on the issue of the DREAM Act, which would extend permanent resident status to illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and meet various achievement requirements. Wal-Mart has been a prominent voice in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. Prime Policy Group was paid $60,000 by Wal-Mart in the first quarter of 2011 for lobbing on immigration and other issues." [Salon]

ADVISERS TO PERRY: LISTEN, STRANGER THINGS HAVE HAPPENED, Y'KNOW? - "While he stands to gain votes from people who had supported Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who dropped out of the race on Wednesday, advisers say that her decision did not affect [Rick] Perry's. Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart said Wednesday morning that the lawmaker called her rivals to congratulate them after the caucus results came in, but did not indicate that she would be dropping out...It helps that the Palmetto State is a relatively low-cost place to run a campaign. Media is cheaper, and the smaller markets make it easy to blanket the state. Its relatively small size also keeps travel costs down and puts a premium on retail campaigning, Perry's strongest skill set. That will all be crucial as the money runs out. A campaign aide said that reports that Perry still has $3.5 million in the bank are likely overstated." [National Journal]

SANTORUM: KILLING BIN LADEN WAS AN ALLEY-OOP - Leading presidential candidate Rick Santorum today rejected the argument that Osama bin Laden's death was a direct result of President Obama's leadership. Instead, Santorum argued, George W. Bush got the ball down court, evaded a double team and tossed it up for his wide open successor. "The Obama administration has been an abject failure on every front on foreign policy when it comes to problems that have come up on his watch," he said during a campaign stop. "And of course he would say, 'Oh, we got bin Laden'...Getting bin Laden was a continuation of policy that was set by the Bush administration. All he did, and I give him credit, after being pressured for a long time, in which he held off on all the reports, he finally conceded to go after him. And I think it was the right move...But that wasn't a strategic decision." Also, Santorum actually mentioned the Bush administration, which probably means that a drinking game participant somewhere is nursing a hangover after doming 10 shots of tequila. Bush administration! Drink! No...CHUG. [HuffPost's Sam Stein]

SANTORUM TRIES TO CLEAN UP THE SANTORUM - Last night on John King USA, Santorum was asked about his now-infamous quote in which he seemed to lump homosexuality and bestiality into the same general category. As you well know, that resulted in Dan Savage's campaign to turn "Santorum" into a neologism for a gay sex byproduct. It succeeded. Here's Santorum (the man): "Hold one second, read the quote. I said 'it's not' -- it is not. I didn't say 'it is.' I said 'it's not.' Now I'm trying to understand what [you're trying to say]. I said 'it's not' those things. I didn't connect them. I specifically excluded them." Just for fun, let's go to the tape: "In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be." He's a gay rights champion! In that same interview, he said: "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything." Gay rights trophy revoked! [NY Mag]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Small child explains dinosaurs.

THE KENNEDYS ARE BACK (AGAIN) - Boston Globe: "Joseph P. Kennedy III is taking the final steps to launch a run for Congress this year, hoping to succeed US Rep. Barney Frank, who will retire rather than run in his reconfigured district. Kennedy is forming an exploratory committee for the seat. The 31-year-old today also announced his resignation as a prosecutor in the office of Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr., where he has worked since September. He will leave state employ Jan. 20...The entrance of the son of former US Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II and the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy would mark the first return of the Kennedy family into Massachusetts electoral politics since the death of patriarch, US Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in 2009." [Boston Globe]

COMFORT FOOD
By @bradjshannon!

- Things our collective unconscious can never unsee... [http://awkwardcampaign.tumblr.com/]

- Remember the lizard and the frog playing games on smartphones? And Here's a cat slicing and dicing on an iPad. [http://gizmo.do/wVLnot]

- Chemistry, in its greatest form, is all about blowing stuff up. [http://gizmo.do/xaJ3My]

- Gundog is the crime-fighting canine McGruff wishes he could be. [http://bit.ly/yxto6n]

- Shut up, culture: "Wanted: Nail Polish Inspired by Literary Greats." [http://huff.to/zDjWDL]

- Fresh baby panda video. [http://bit.ly/AyHYXK]

- This starts out as a video of underwater ice fishing, but gets (more) confusing toward the end. [http://bit.ly/yc0S81]

- Somehow, we missed this video of Anderson Cooper trying coffee (and then spinach) for the first time. [http://bit.ly/xuLNZE]

TWITTERAMA

@ryanjreilly: Lesson of the day: government servers kick back emails that contain "Hahahahahahahah.'

@EliLake: Simply the Best? RT @daveweigel: Santorum now talking to college students, shaming them for not knowing what the US's national motto is.

@emilyABC: Romney protestor has a stuffed dog strapped to the roof of his car in SC pic.twitter.com/mnA84NqT

ON TAP
By @christinawilkie

TONIGHT

7:00 pm : Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman host dueling Town Hall Meetings. For those who drew the short straw, here's where you're going: Huntsman: Newport Recreation Department [65 Belknap Ave., Newport] Santorum: Windham High School [64 London Bridge Rd. Windham]

All Day: Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) rakes money at a skiing fundraiser in Park City - the first of at least 7 ski vacations fundraisers that members of Congress plan to write-offhost in 2012. The cost is $2,500 PAC/$1,000 per person to "host" (whatever that means), and $1,500 PAC/$500 for plain old ski bunnies. [Park City, Utah]

TOMORROW

6:00 pm - 9:00 pm: The art galleries along R Street host their monthly First Friday open house, your last chance to appreciate DC before Congress gets back and ruins it all. [R St. NW, around Dupont Circle; free]
6:00 pm: Looking for a crazy Friday night in the Granite State? Try stalking Rick Santorum at the Hillsborough County GOP Gala. Non-sanctioned afterparty is at Speaker's Pub in the Crowne Plaza Hotel. [2 Somerset Parkway, Nashua, N.H.]

Jan. 6-Jan. 7: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) hosts his Second Annual Winter Ski Retreat in Park City, just like the other Utah senator did. Only difference is that Hatch charges double what Lee does. Then again, Hatch plays the piano and sings show tunes. [The Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley Resort]

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