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HUFFPOST HILL - Chris Matthews Finds His Ed McMahon

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Mitt Romney heavily favors Fox News, a bias he could fix with a few hits on the broadcast networks or with one REALLY interesting appearance on "Democracy Now!" Newt Gingrich and Chris Matthews reminded Americans that no matter the disagreements that divide us, we are united in our support of elongate reptiles who subsist on mice. And on the heels of a new report showing that Congress speaks at an 11th grade level, the Senate voted this week to strike the word "lunatic" from federal law. No word on whether all references are henceforth to be replaced with "omgggggg so cray cray." This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, May 24th, 2012:

ROUND 8 OF NUCLEAR FIGHT GOES TO DEMS - A week that started on a high note for the Nuclear Energy Institute, with the resignation of industry foe Gregory Jaczko as chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is ending on a decidedly low one. The industry and its backers on the panel had made up a fake controversy about Jaczko's treatment of women at the NRC to get him out. So Obama has nominated Dr. Allison Macfarlane. At the same time, Harry Reid, Jaczko's patron, and Barbara Boxer, the chair of the relevant committee, said they would drop their opposition to the GOP's nominee to the panel if Republicans would go along with Macfarlane. Boxer said she's looking forward to holding a joint hearing in June. So the industry looks like it will have dragged itself through the mud just to replace one anti-Yucca, pro-safety chairman with an anti-Yucca, pro-safety chairwoman. Whoops. At least Big Nuke still has Bill Magwood. "I continue to have grave concerns about Kristine Svinicki's record on the Commission. But I believe the best interests of the public would be served by moving the nominations of Dr. Macfarlane and Ms. Svinicki together before Ms. Svinicki's term expires at the end of June, to ensure that we have a fully functioning NRC. Republicans claim to share that goal, and I hope they will work with us to make it a reality," Reid said in a statement.

The Senate Wednesday did the people's work and voted to remove the word "lunatic" from federal law, Mike McAuliff informs us.

CHRIS MATTHEWS V. NEWT GINGRICH: WHO WON? ZOO ANIMALS. - Mediaite: "Gingrich appeared live on Matthews' MSNBC programHardball with topics that ranged from the GOP primaries to Romney's vice presidential search and finally to Gingrich's love of animals and zoos. 'You're smarter than you talk sometimes,' said Matthews. 'How much does it burn you that Mitt Romney, a man who I am convinced -- check me on this -- is not deeply rooted in American history, beat you with money?' 'Mitt Romney did what he had to do in order to become the nominee,' said Gingrich. 'When it got to the crunch, he was tough enough and smart enough to beat me in Florida.'... Towards the end of the second segment, Mathews brought up Gingrich's frequent trips to local zoos while on the campaign trail. 'What's you and animals about,' asked Matthews. 'I love animals in zoos,' said Gingrich who said San Diego and Elephants were his favorite zoo and animal respectively. In a discussion about Gingrich's love of snakes, Matthews asked what Gingrich's favorite snake was. The python, Gingrich responded, because it is 'big and passive.'" [Mediatie]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The latest weekly unemployment claims report is totally "meh" for like the sixth week in a row. "In the week ending May 19, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 370,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 372,000," the Labor Department says. "The 4-week moving average was 370,000, a decrease of 5,500 from the previous week's revised average of 375,500." That's a slight decline, but still way more claims than what would be considered "good." Sorry. [DOL]

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JIM MESSINA URGES DEMOCRATIC SENATORS TO JUST BE COOL, MAN - The Hill: "President Obama's campaign manager huddled with Democratic senators on Thursday to brief them on the campaign's grassroots strategy, according to lawmakers in attendance... A number of Democrats have criticized the Obama campaign's recent attacks on Romney's business background, while Republicans have cast them as attacks on capitalism. The subject is sensitive with some Democrats because they could be viewed as critiques of private equity, a source of campaign contributions for both Obama and congressional Democrats... Messina said the Democratic lawmakers understood that the Obama campaign was facing free-spending outside groups as the president sought a second term and suggested that the Obama team's success would trickle down to the congressional level." [The Hill]

WYDEN ANGRY - Zach Carter: "Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced legislation late Wednesday to protest the Obama administration's refusal to share information about controversial trade negotiations with the senator. . Wyden said that his office was locked out of information about a trade pact in the works known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The deal, which involves eight other Pacific nations, includes broad details on government contracting terms that would ban 'Buy American' preferences for U.S. manufacturers, and intellectual property standards that would increase prescription drug prices abroad. Those positions have drawn criticism from American labor unions, domestic manufacturers and international public health advocates." [HuffPost]

VP SELECTION ENTERING DANCE, MONKEY!!!! PHASE - So if you witness Paul Ryan yelling "Ronald Reagan freedom, national defense taxes... homeschooling!!!" right before bear hugging the nearest American flag, please understand that he is under a lot of pressure. AP: "As his campaign evaluates potential running mates, Republicans with a possible shot at the No. 2 spot on the presidential ticket are starting to engage in unofficial public tryouts for the traditional vice presidential role of attack dog...Knowledge of the process is limited to a few of Romney's highest-level aides. Information is on a 'need-to-know' basis - and as far as those aides are concerned, there are few people inside the Boston headquarters at 585 Commercial Street who need to know, let alone reporters and other outsiders. The Republicans who discussed the vice presidential selection process did so on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to anger a campaign that has barred people from talking about the selection in public." [AP]

THAT MITT ROMNEY SIT DOWN ON TAVIS SMILEY'S SHOW? NOT SO MUCH. - Michael Calderone: "When Mitt Romney addressed donors at a private campaign fundraiser on April 15, the presumptive Republican nominee described Fox News viewers as 'true believers' and said the campaign would have to go beyond the Roger Ailes-run network to reach independent and women voters in the general election... Since that Palm Beach fundraiser, Romney has appeared six times on Fox News -- more than on all other national broadcast and cable networks combined. Romney also recently gave his first interview following a controversial Washington Post piece, which reported that he had bullied closeted gay classmates in high school, to 'Fox & Friends' co-host Brian Kilmeade, who questioned the paper's motivations on his radio show. In nearly six weeks, Romney has done four other national TV interviews -- CNN, CNBC, ABC and CBS -- two of which were joint interviews with his wife, Ann Romney. He's also spoken to numerous local TV stations." [HuffPost]

WARREN AND BROWN NECK-AND-NECK - Don't worry, Scott, that doesn't mean what you think it means... which we know you'd never EVER want to do. Mark Blumenthal: "Sen. Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger are nearly tied in the race for a Massachusetts Senate seat, according to a poll released Wednesday night. This new result suggests that relentlessly negative news coverage over allegations that Warren embellished her biography have had little impact on a race that has remained deadlocked for months. The new poll, conducted by the Suffolk University Political Research Center and sponsored by Boston television station 7News, gave Brown a one percentage point edge over Warren (48 percent to 47 percent), with just 5 percent undecided. The survey of 600 likely voters in Massachusetts was conducted from May 20 to 22." [HuffPost]

MISSOURI SENATE CANDIDATE PROMISES TO HAVE AWFUL CONSTITUENT OUTREACH - Missouri Senate candidate John Brunner told KMOX radio yesterday that he will reduce "crony capitalism" by, essentially, limiting his constituent meetings to graduates of Liberty University's law school. From the interview, provided to us by American Bridge (thanks, Citizens United!): "When I'm in the U.S. Senate, I'm going to tell my scheduling guy, 'Here's how we're going to work it here: I'm going to have a pile of Constitutions on my desk, I'm going to have a can of yellow highlighters. Anybody who wants to have a meeting with me, you grab that yellow highlighter [and] mark it in the Constitution and we'll have a meeting. If it's not there, no meeting.'"

CHUCK SCHUMER HATES EDUARDO SAVERIN APOLOGISTS, EXCELS AT ELECTION YEAR POLITICS - For the record, if Chuck Schumer and Eduardo Saverin are willing to debate the tax shelter issue in one of the Singaporean nightclubs where Saverin spends all his time, we'll gladly moderate. That would be awesome. Mike McAuliff: "After being compared to the Nazis for targeting people like the Facebook co-founder who renounced his U.S. citizenship and thereby avoided taxes, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) hit back Thursday. He said it was appalling to make such a comparison, and appalling that conservatives would turn a 'tax dodger' into a 'hero.' Schumer and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) offered legislation last week that would bar people like Eduardo Saverin -- who renounced his citizenship as he faced the prospect of a $4 billion windfall from the Facebook IPO -- from returning to the United States." [HuffPost]

A new poll finds Connie Mack comfortably out front in Florida's Republican Senate primary and tied with Bill Nelson in the general. If Nelson can't leverage Rick Scott's super cool approval numbers -- like, oh, you'll be cold in just that sweater... maybe you want a fleece, also? cool -- into a victory, he doesn't deserve to win. Mike McAuliff: "In spite of Tea Party insurgents complicating contests elsewhere in the country, Mack, a fourth-term member of Congress, has largely embraced the movement and has large leads on all his competitors, the Quinnipiac University poll found. Mack is leading the Republican field with 40 percent of voters, topping the 8 percent for Tea Party-backed hopeful Mike McCalister and the 7 percent for former Sen. George LeMieux. The survey finds that the general election contest is a statistical dead heat, with Mack netting 42 percent of support to Nelson's 41 percent." [HuffPost]

THE MOMENT DEMOCRATS STARTED TO FEEL SLIGHTLY LESS WARM AND FUZZY ABOUT GABRIELLE GIFFORDS' SEAT - Good luck winning this state, Mr. President! John Celock: " in the November election. Democrat Ron Barber, who is competing against Republican Jesse Kelly in a June 12 special election for the chance to complete the remainder of Giffords' term, held back from answering Kelly's question about his November voting plans. Barber said instead that he is focusing on his congressional campaign not the presidential race, the Arizona Daily Star reported... UPDATE: 12:19 p.m. -- Barber released a statement Thursday indicating that he isbacking Obama, the Daily Beast reported." [HuffPost]

DONALD TRUMP WANTS TO START A SUPER PAC MAYBE - And if you're a single-issue voter whose single issue is "providing a televisual platform on which Arsenio Hall can resurrect his career," then have we got a super PAC for you! Paul Blumenthal: "Reality television star, real estate mogul and Republican celebrity du jour Donald Trump told the conservative news site NewsMax that he was considering launching his own super PAC to extend his political influence. When asked whether established super PACs had approached him to fund attacks on President Barack Obama, Trump responded, 'Yes, they have, and I am thinking about just doing my own super PAC.' 'There was a recent [anti-Obama] commercial done where they made him look like a superhero. I'm saying, who made this commercial? I thought it was one of the worst commercials I've ever seen,' Trump explained. 'If I did one, I would show how bad we're doing as a country, how disrespected we are as a country. I would show people from OPEC, 11 people sitting around a beautiful gold-encrusted table talking about how they are going to continue to rip off the United States.'" [HuffPost]

Can't we all just agree that getting in bed with Donald Trump is not a good electoral strategy?? Luke Johnson: "The former Massachusetts governor is offering those who donate at least $3 a chance in a raffle, with the prize being a meal with Romney and the real estate mogul who endorsed him. The winners also will have the opportunity to stay at Trump's hotel in New York and tour the 'Celebrity Apprentice' boardroom. Trump beat the drum demanding that President Barack Obama release his birth certificate. Following the public release of Obama's long-form document, Trump has continued to voice doubts about it." [HuffPost]

BADA BAIN - With Hunter Stuart: "The national debate over private equity so far has hinged on the question of whether experience in the field qualifies Mitt Romney, the former Bain Capital executive, for the presidency. But a more vexing, and largely unanswered, question lies just beneath the surface: How is it, exactly, that an investment company can make millions even as the company it's ostensibly trying to turn around goes bust? For that answer, we turned to what may seem like a less-than-reliable source: Tony Soprano. [HuffPost]

MARION BARRY: STILL ELECTED TO STUFF - HuffPost DC: "Former District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry (D) appeared with Asian-American leaders at a Thursday press conference to address his recent controversial comments about Asian business owners and Filipino nurses."[HuffPost]

THIS POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT IS EVERY KIND OF POSITIVE SUPERLATIVE IMAGINABLE - Via BuzzFeed, the best quotes from Democratic Minnehaha Commissioner Jeff Barth's five-minute web video, released to promote his campaign for Kristi Noem's congressional seat: "'My dad was a coach and a history teacher. He got a job with the CIA and became a diplomat for the U.S. government.' Countries lived in: Iceland, Germany, Belgium, and 'even Lesotho.' 'I lived in Germany before they built the Berlin Wall. I lived in Germany when they built the Berlin Wall.' 'I learned chess in Iceland.' (He was also the state chess champion in 1993.) Barth bicycled through Great Britain, 'afraid of nuclear war the whole time.' 'I've ridden an ostrich. I've done a lot of stuff.'" [BuzzFeed]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Happy birthday, Maru! Love, HPH.

GIT OUT YER BRIE: OUTDOOR MOVIE SEASON IS HERE - HuffPost DC: "The summer tradition of sitting in a public park, drinking wine like you're underaged and getting perturbed at people around you for talking about god knows what over the best part of the film begins anew this week." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD
By @bradjshannon!

- Here is a poor craftsman. [http://bit.ly/ML1h92]

- Don't call us. Ever. [http://chzb.gr/ML0J39]

- The real trick is getting you to watch something related to soccer. [http://bit.ly/ML22z2]

- High five! [http://bit.ly/MvKLaj]

- 15-year-old creates cancer-detecting sensor paper, beats the crap out of existing methods. [http://huff.to/ML2SLY]

- We know, slinky. We know. [http://bit.ly/MvGyUf]

- There is no cure for timeline. [http://bit.ly/ML3Cko]

TWITTERAMA

@daveweigel: Van Jones signs truther petition, is kicked out of White House. Donald Trump goes on national birther tour, will campaign with Mitt

@elisefoley: Or Brian Fellows-style MT @delrayser: Matthews should start having a weekly segment where Newt brings an animal on with him a la Joan Embry.

ON TAP
By @christinawilkie

TONIGHT

6:30pm: Proving that even smug entitlement needs to cut loose once in a while, the young conservatives' social club America's Future Foundation hosts its annual black-tie gala. Swing dancing! Aggressive cocktails! [2017 I St., NW]

8:30pm: Something tells us the crowd at Obama's Dublin fundraiser for expats is gonna be a little rowdier than the chardonnay-sipping, organic carrot-eating folks in Silicon Valley last night. Just a hunch. [13 Dame Court, Dublin]

TOMORROW

8:30am: To kick off a day of industrial agriculture-backed fundraisers, GOP Sen. Roy Blunt passes the hat at the USA Rice Foundation HQ. Monsanto and the cotton lobby kick in too, for a great way to start your day. [50 F Street NW 9th floor]

8:30am: What industrial meat production lobby isn't sponsoring Orrin Hatch's breakfast? Seriously, there's beef, pork, chicken, turkey, Brazilian meat, and, for good measure, the Meat Institute. Naturally, we'll have the granola. [107 D St. NE]

4:30pm PST: And, because never a day goes by that someone doesn't raise cash for Obama somewhere, the president sits down for a relaxed, friendly, extremely expensive kaffee-klatch with the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. $35,800 gets you a cup of tea and a fortune cookie. [170 South Market Street, San Jose]

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