HUFFPOST HILL - Al Gore Jokes Accumulating Rapidly

01/21/2014 06:04 pm ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014

Washington shut down once again when its tires and roads couldn't reach an 11th hour agreement. Members of Congress are using their "district work period" to attend Davos, because nothing that appeals to Main Street more than Thomas Friedman rambling about "disrupting the Arab Street with apps." And Sean Hannity is threatening to move out of New York, a move that would be the state's most welcome departure since Rudy Giuliani did away with the squeegee men. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, January 21st, 2014:

MCDONNELL, WIFE INDICTED - Two Republican governors confronting ethics scandals. You know what they say about trends... (don't let us down, Rick Scott!) AP: "Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife were indicted Tuesday on corruption charges after a monthslong federal investigation into gifts the Republican received from a political donor. The 14-count indictment against McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, includes one count of conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud; three counts of honest-services wire fraud; one count of conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right; six counts of obtaining property under color of official right; and one count of making false statements to a federal credit union. Bob McDonnell is also charged with an additional count of making a false statement to a financial institution, and Maureen McDonnell is charged with one count of obstruction of an official proceeding...In July, McDonnell apologized and said he had returned more than $120,000 in loans and other gifts from Johnnie Williams, the CEO of pharmaceutical company Star Scientific. He insisted that he had done nothing illegal on behalf of Star Scientific but said he'd do 'things differently today than choices I made a couple of years ago.' On Tuesday, McDonnell repeated that apology but insisted he had done nothing wrong." [AP]

MEET THE LUNATIC WHO MIGHT ACTUALLY END MITCH MCCONNELL'S CAREER - Jason Cherkis: "[Greg Fettig of Unbridled Liberty] believes unknown forces orchestrated the 2008 financial collapse to give Barack Obama the presidency.. Fettig is also convinced that President Obama was not born in the United States... When a Democratic member of Congress got robbed, he tweeted that it was merely 'chickens coming home to roost.'... News and World Report highlighted his role in Kentucky last week, noting that Fettig was the organizer behind the effort that helped challenger Richard Mourdock topple Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, which cost the GOP the general election race...If 'we beat McConnell, we can prove we can do back-to-back Senate races and we can take anybody out if we work together,' he told U.S. News. When it comes to the 2014 race in Kentucky, Fettig thinks tea party challenger Matt Bevin is the horse to back. McConnell’s primary opponent has won the support of a coalition of tea party activists, and Fettig has been brought in to help run the group's outreach effort they are calling 'Unbridled Liberty.' Fettig has also launched a super PAC bearing that name. Unbridled Liberty plans to draw in and organize tea party activists from surrounding states -- Fettig lives in Indiana -- and already has commitments from activists to help knock on doors, staff phone banks, and stage events in support of Bevin and other like-minded candidates in down-ballot races. " [HuffPost]

District work periods are a time for members of Congress to head home, listen to constituents, and carry out the hard work of representative Democracy travel the world on taxpayer-financed junkets.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Computers ruin everything. Marc Lifsher: "Four months after a botched computer upgrade delayed unemployment benefits for tens of thousands of Californians, jobless workers are still finding it nearly impossible to reach state employees for help. On any given day in recent months, as many as 90% of callers to the Employment Development Department seeking information about missed payments or unprocessed claims failed to reach a live worker, according to agency phone records obtained by The Times." [LATimes]

State unemployment agencies would be better at helping unemployed people if they hadn't made so many of their own workers unemployed because of declining unemployment claims.

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CHRIS CHRISTIE SWORN IN FOR SECOND TERM, WINTER STORM POETICALLY CANCELS CELEBRATION - Somewhere, one of Christie's press aides is SUPER glad they didn't suggest that "bridge to New Jersey's future" inauguration theme that was rattling around their head. Amanda Terkel: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) was sworn in for his second term Tuesday, amid what has become the biggest controversy of his political career and one that could shadow a possible run for president in 2016. When he took the podium in Trenton for his inaugural address, he called for cooperation with the state legislature and stressed the need for bipartisanship...For the past few weeks, Christie's administration has been rocked by the 'Bridgegate' scandal, which caused major traffic jams in Fort Lee, N.J., for four days in September...Christie did not directly address the controversy Tuesday, and he appeared intent on moving beyond the issue...Christie had to cancel his inauguration party on Ellis Island, scheduled for after the speech, due to snow. The food prepared for the event is being donated to food pantries in the Jersey City area." [HuffPost]

CHRISTIE NOMINATES HEAD OF AGENCY AT CENTER OF INVESTIGATION TO SUPERIOR COURT - Times: "Gov. Chris Christie recently paused in his war over traffic cones, gargantuan traffic jams and accusations of political retribution to nominate a few men as judges on the state’s Superior Court. His nomination of John J. Matheussen, a fellow Republican, caught my eye. These are important, not to mention pleasant, jobs carrying salaries of at least $165,000 and the possibility of lifetime tenure. Mr. Matheussen served a decade as the chief executive of the Delaware River Port Authority, a vast bistate fief that governs four major bridges to Pennsylvania and a mass transit system. There is no arguing that his was a complex job. But unfortunate facts quickly crowd in. In Philadelphia, a federal prosecutor is investigating the Delaware River Port Authority and its unchecked spending on development projects. These projects, without fail, came tethered to the authority’s commissioners and to Mr. Matheussen, who made $220,000 and had to sign off on every deal. The prosecutor sent out the most recent round of subpoenas last month. I scratched a little further and read a 77-page report issued by the New Jersey comptroller in 2012. It turns out the agency, with the explicit knowledge of Mr. Matheussen, doled out a spectacular number of loans and grants to politically connected organizations, pitching the authority deep into debt. The comptroller’s investigators pored through the authority’s files and reported that, without fail, every project was missing required documentation." [NYT]

Cheer up, governor, there's a completely viable political faction that is willing to take you in: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will likely be invited to this year's annual Conservative Political Action Conference after being snubbed last year. American Conservative Union (ACU) Chairman Al Cardenas, whose group runs CPAC, said Christie is 'being looked at differently this year' because of his likely presidential campaign. Cardenas told The Hill that there haven't been any final decisions made but said Christie's 2016 potential makes it more likely that he'll get an invite this year, even as a brewing scandal over a bridge closing last year and other accusations of political playback have swirled around the governor. According to Cardenas, last year's perceived snub occurred because CPAC had focused more on the “four or five governors who made the greatest contribution to the conservative movement." [The Hill]

Haircuts: Chris Christie (h/t Blue Jersey)

DON'T MESS WITH THE DENTISTS - National Journal: "Rep. Mike Simpson is a 15-year veteran of Congress and a close ally of Speaker John Boehner. But as the Idaho Republican fends off a stiff tea-party challenge in 2014, the fact that he's a dentist may prove to be just as important. The influential dental lobby is expected to go all out this year to protect Simpson, one of only two dentists on Capitol Hill. His primary is still five months away, but the dentists' independent campaign arm has already dropped $22,000 in mailers and spent another $20,000 last week dialing up Idaho voters to gauge the dynamics on the ground. Simpson, 63, faces the biggest political test of his career as the well-heeled Club for Growth has vowed to extract him from Congress. The club named Simpson as its first target for defeat in 2014 and is backing his tea-party challenger, Bryan Smith, who has already raised more than $525,000, including his own money. Enter the dentists. 'We'll try to raise as much as we can for him,' said Mike Graham, senior vice president of government and public affairs for the American Dental Association. When the other lone dentist in Congress, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., first won his seat in 2010, nearly 600 dentists contributed a total of $265,000 to his campaign. Dentists accounted for more than 40 percent of Gosar's total haul and more than half his donors. 'People actually in my first primary said, 'You get a lot of your money from dentists,'' Gosar said. 'And I said, 'I'm not running from it. I'm proud to be a dentist.''" [NJ]

Louis Gohmert says he's uninsured thanks to Obamacare. That's a shame, because now Louis Gohmert can't treat...you know, whatever it is that's wrong with him. Luke Johnson: "The roughly 48 million uninsured Americans have a new member in their ranks: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas). 'Other people are going to see what I did when I looked into health insurance for my wife and me: that the deductible rate, it doubled, about $3,000 to $6,000, and our policy was going to go from about $300 to about $1,500 a month,' he said in a recent radio interview, according to the Dallas Morning News. 'I actually don't have insurance right now, so thank you very much, Obamacare.' Unlike the vast majority of uninsured people, Gohmert is nowhere near the poverty line, earning $174,000 as a member of the House. And according to the Morning News, the Texas representative and his wife would pay a monthly premium of $600 under the exchanges, with the standard employer subsidy for members of Congress and their staffers. That works out to just over 4 percent of his annual income." [HuffPost]

CONSERVATIVES ATTACK WENDY DAVIS WITH SOME LEVEL FOUR CHARM SPELLS SEXISM - Erick Erickson is actually an EMILY's List false flag. That is the only explanation. Laura Bassett: "A week after Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis' gubernatorial campaign trumpeted 'record strength' in its first fundraising report, her conservative opponents have launched a series of gendered attacks on the Democrat's personal history. In response to a Dallas Morning News article on Sunday that called into question a few specific details of Davis' personal life -- including when she became a single mother, how long she lived in a trailer with her daughter and who paid for her law school degree -- conservative pundits were quick to call Davis a liar. 'So Abortion Barbie had a Sugar Daddy Ken,' tweeted Fox News pundit Erick Erickson, referring to Davis' famous filibuster of an anti-abortion bill in the Texas state Senate last year and to her second husband. '[Not] exactly the bio she claimed' Radio host Rush Limbaugh called Davis 'fake' and a 'genuine head case,' while the campaign of Davis' Republican opponent, Texas state Attorney General Greg Abbott, warned voters not to 'indulge her fanciful narrative.' The discrepancies pointed out by The Dallas Morning News in Davis' tale of past hardships were relatively minor. Davis has said she was a divorced single mother at 19, when she was only separated at 19. Her divorce did not become final until she was 21. She has told stories about the difficulty of living in a trailer with her daughter, but the article noted they lived in that mobile home for just a few months. Davis mentioned in 2012 that her mother had a sixth-grade education; in fact, her mother has a ninth-grade education." [HuffPost]

KATHARINE WEYMOUTH'S TEARS, IN ONE CHART: EZRA KLEIN LEAVING WASHINGTON POST - We're still waiting for Erik Wemple to build up his own fiefdom, ideally based out of Mike Allen's mystery apartment. Michael Calderone: "Washington Post star policy writer Ezra Klein, and two other journalists, are leaving the paper for a new venture...Klein launched Wonkblog, which breaks down complex policy issues in a highly readable and shareable way, in 2011. His departure follows weeks of speculation in the newsroom about his future. The Huffington Post was first to report in December that Klein was looking to launch his own media venture and was speaking to both outside investors and the Post's ownership about backing it. The New York Times reported earlier this month that Post higher-ups had turned down an eight-figure proposal from Klein. Since then, the question inside the newsroom hasn't been whether or not Klein would leave -- most assumed he would -- but who might go with him. Post director of platforms Melissa Bell and fellow 'wunderkind' blogger Dylan Matthews are leaving for the new venture along with Klein. Matthews runs Wonkblog's viral spinoff site, Know More, which has quickly become one of the Post's top web properties. The editors said Tuesday that they will continue building Wonkblog and Know More and 'expanding their reach.' They plan to make announcements about the blogs in the coming days." [HuffPost]

Sean Hannity might leave New York City, a departure whose significance could only be rivaled by John Updike's retreat to Connecticut, the departure of the city's manufacturing base or, nay, the forced forfeiture of the city from the Dutch to the British. Woe unto us. WOE UNTO US. [HuffPost's Jack Mirkinson]

'STEVE STOCKMAN'S PHOTOSHOP FABRICATING,' OR 'WHY ALL WHITE GUYS LOOK ALIKE' - The Wire: "Texas Rep. Steve Stockman, who is challenging Sen. John Cornyn in this year's Republican primary, couldn't find a picture of Cornyn smiling at President Obama. So someone on his team made one, repurposing an old photo of Florida's Charlie Crist. The odd image was spotted by Politico's Burgess Everett on Stockman's breathless Cornyn Loves Obamacare website. Of the image, which is below, Burgess pointed out that it looked 'like Cornyn's face was photoshopped onto Biden's head.'...Right idea; wrong guy. It's actually a 2009 photo of Obama with Crist, who was governor of Florida at the time." [The Wire]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a loving dog and a hateful cat.

Chris Coons: America's favorite bald homeless senator: "Three years into his Senate term, Chris Coons is still heeding the advice of his predecessor, Joe Biden: Don’t find too cozy a place to live in Washington...On rare nights he’s in Washington for late votes, fundraisers or dinners, Coons often crashes with fellow senators, like Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley ,who has a spare room in his Takoma Park pad. He’ll sometimes grab a hotel room. On a few rare occasions, he’s slept on a cot in the Senate gym.” [Politico]

Yay? " Rob Ford: New video shows mayor rambling, slurring his words" [The Star]


- A ranking of Krispy Kreme donuts' nutritional value because sure why not. [http://bit.ly/19LsDJh]

- If you fill out a perfect March Madness bracket -- and you have a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance -- Berkshire Hathaway and Quicken Loans will give you $1 billion. [http://read.bi/1emJ5i6]

- Foul-mouthed child teaches you how to make popcorn. [http://bit.ly/1ao5XPO]

- Bill Nye The Science Guy dispels myths about foreign aid. [http://bit.ly/1eaR277]

- What is America's favorite cheese? [http://bit.ly/1f3x1TK]

- Michelle Obama dunked on members of the Miami Heat. It had something to do with nutrition. [http://huff.to/1jkZIiy]

- Cat has very odd gait (wait for it....) [http://bit.ly/1dRIJAH]


@pourmecoffee: Orwell died today in 1950. If he were still alive, he'd be kind of an asshole running around telling everybody "See, I told you so."

@delrayser: If you're considering pitching a Richard Sherman/Michelle Obama Dunking thinkpiece, let me do you a favor: NO.

@benjysarlin: But who among us hasn't casually asked a new friend for designer clothes, a watch, a golf outing, a vacation, a ferrari, and huge loans?

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