POLITICS
03/07/2014 06:12 pm ET | Updated Mar 07, 2014

HUFFPOST HILL - Gay Sex Meetup Also A Conservative Political Conference

Darrell Issa apologized to Elijah Cummings for cutting off his mic during a committee hearing and miraculously didn't blame Benghazi for it, either. M4M Craigslist personals are popping up in conjunction with CPAC, meaning "Santorum" isn't the gayest thing at the conference. And a strong majority of conservatives think the Keystone pipeline will boost employment, making the oil conduit the only thing crossing the border that conservatives think will create jobs. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, March 7th, 2014:

ISSA APOLOGIES - Will Darrell Issa investigate his humble pie for administration connections? The American people have a right to know. WaPo: "House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) apologized Thursday to his committee's ranking Democratic member for cutting off his microphone at the end of a hearing Wednesday, according to a local report. Issa told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he personally apologized to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). His apology comes after the House earlier Thursday voted down a motion to censure the chairman for his treatment of Cummings...Issa admitted fault Thursday, after the Congressional Black Caucus, of which Cummings is a member, called for his removal as chairman of his committee...'I could have offered to reopen the hearing and allowed him to make a second statement,' Issa told the Union-Tribune. 'As chairman, I should have been much more sensitive to the mood of what was going on, and I take responsibility.'" [WaPo]

HOW MUCH MONEY DO WE GIVE UKRAINE? - Paul Blumenthal: "As the United States readies $1 billion in loan guarantees to the new government in Ukraine, along with even more aid for reforming elections and cleaning up corruption, one thing is clear: The public is unlikely to know where that money is going for some time, if ever. Since 1992, the U.S. has sent $3 billion to $5 billion in aid to Ukraine, with only cursory public disclosure. The U.S. State Department operates an online database, ForeignAssistance.gov, but names of foreign recipients are often left out, and entire sections are blank. Furthermore, the disclosure often comes long after the money has been distributed. 'It is incredibly hard to find this kind of information,' Nicole Valentinuzzi, communications manager for Publish What You Fund, an international organization promoting transparency for foreign aid." [HuffPost]

DC MAYORAL CANDIDATE TOMMY WELLS TALKS TO HUFFPOST HILL - On Wednesday DC Ward 6 councilman and mayoral candidate Tommy Wells stopped by our office as part of our new effort to focus on local issues from time to time. Wells was forceful in his support for liberal causes, like campaign finance reform, reproductive rights, criminal justice reform and marijuana legalization (the council passed Wells' sweeping decriminalization bill this week). Of council Chairman Phil Mendelson, who opposed public marijuana consumption in part because he didn't want his daughter to smell weed, Wells quipped, "I guess he doesn't mind his daughter seeing young men thrown on the ground with [arrest] bracelets [on]." Of President Obama's "John I will give you DC abortion" budget deal with House Republicans, Wells mused that Planned Parenthood "had a record day because of those assholes." He didn't offer too many positions that aren't already public, but it was clear that a Mayor Wells would likely be a constant loggerheads with the council. "Our council is corrupt," he said, singling out members like Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham, who, in his estimation "is what's wrong with our government." Wells argued that his experience representing Capitol Hill has helped him develop a working relationship with members of Congress. Wells recalled lengthy conversations with one lawmaker, in particular. "Mary Landrieu would call me for hours," Wells said. "After a while I told her I have to get back to my job!"

PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST WISHES WE COULD ALL JUST BE JUDGED BY THE CONTENT OF OUR CHARACTERS - HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist -- who built a giant safe in his panic room for all his bitcoins, only to learn how pointless that was -- was upset to learn that the CFPB has been giving higher performance grades to its white employees than its minority ones. “I heard that the CFPB has a huge network of 1/32nd Cherokee Native Americans working in the tech division, where all of the $300K+ a year jobs are," PSLGOPL writes. "Professor Warren knows how to take care of her tribal relatives.” Thanks, PSLGOPL!

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - After several months of gradual decline, the number of Americans unemployed six months or longer surprisingly increased by 203,000 to 3.8 million in February, the U.S. Labor Department announced Friday in an otherwise positive jobs report. [HuffPost]

DOUBLE DOWNER - Bethany Workman, a single mom in East Syracuse, N.Y., was one of the 1.3 million who lost unemployment insurance thanks to Congress in December. She and six other hygienists lost their jobs when their dental office closed down in March 2012. She received unemployment insurance but also took temporary jobs."I took any temp part time I could get," Workman, 44, said in an interview. "A lot of dentists don't want to hire a full-time hygienist. I could get a day here, a day there. By the time I would pay daycare I would end up with less than I had on unemployment. I waited tables." When her benefits ended in December, debt started piling up. "It was right after Christmas and I just wasn't aware that that was going to happen, so we just basically had nothing," she said. "What do you do when you have nothing?" She applied for food stamps and temporary assistance to help with her rent. She received $580, for February but Workman said she still owes $870 for the past two months. She kept applying for jobs and finally got a callback two weeks ago, when a dentist urgently needed a hygienist because one had quit unexpectedly. Now she's hoping she'll be able to catch up. "I'm way behind on all my bills," Workman said. "The landlord's being very, very gracious." [HuffPost]

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MITCH MCCONNELL: CONGRESS ISN'T GOING TO DO MUCH THIS YEAR - Guy sure knows how to rally the troops. Samantha Lachman: "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Friday that those hoping for comprehensive immigration reform and other policy changes from Congress will be disappointed this year. In an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, McConnell tempered expectations by blaming President Barack Obama for recalcitrance on various types of policy reforms, rather than a timid Congress in a midterm election year. 'There's a lot of big important things that need to be dealt with that aren't going to happen this year,' McConnell said. 'These things do not get hatched in Congress and forced on a reluctant president. Never happens, 435 people in the House and a 100 people in the Senate do not collectively end up tackling tough stuff and forcing it on the president.' In February, McConnell told reporters that immigration reform wouldn't happen in 2014 due to "irresolvable conflict" between the Senate and House." [HuffPost]

LIKE IRAN, CPAC HAS NO GAYS - Amanda Terkel: "Activists gathered on Thursday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference for a panel called 'Reaching Out,' designed to offer advice on how the Republican Party can expand its appeal to minority communities. But the need to reach out to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community didn't come up once during the discussion. 'Much to my dismay, there was not a single mention of even the word gay, much less LGBT, in a far broader discussion of basically every other minority community that the conservative movement needs to do conservative outreach for,' said Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelo. 'In my opinion, the silence was deafening on that front.'... The few times the issue of gay rights has come up at CPAC were indirect mentions -- and they weren't in the direction of inclusion. On Thursday, for example, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) referenced his support for the star of the reality TV show 'Duck Dynasty,' who faced a backlash after making anti-gay remarks. The American Conservative Union, which hosts CPAC, has had a difficult relationship with LGBT groups in recent years. Angelo said the Log Cabin Republicans wanted to have a "voice" at this year's conference and specifically asked to join the Reaching Out panel, seeing it as "a simple, non-controversial way to integrate gay conservatives into a discussion that wasn't only about gay marriage and gay issues." [HuffPost]

@moody: This group at CPAC says gay people are beavers who are eating Ronald Reagan's stool. pic.twitter.com/DQCdinzmIO

Foster Freiss is at CPAC, and he still wants Rick Santorum to run for president: "Friess brought a bit of attention upon himself when he infamously told one of his interviewers that back in his day, 'they used Bayer aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly.' 'That aspirin comment only sparked interested b ecause I was a Santorum supporter,' he insisted on Friday. 'I think it was an attempt to try and tie that into I’m against contraceptives. Contraceptives have been very, very good to me. I have four kids, two years apart.'" Thanks, Foster! [HuffPost's Sam Stein]

CONSERVATIVES AT CPAC NOT EAGER TO TAKE A BITE OUT OF CRIME - Crime, boy, they don't know. Ryan Reilly: [T]here's a group making its first appearance at CPAC. Its table is littered with handouts featuring libertarian Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and a bowl full of yellow squirt guns, and its television flashes quotes from preacher Pat Robertson and former President George H.W. Bush. But its call for criminal justice reform was not traditionally welcome in the conservative movement. The nonpartisan Families Against Mandatory Minimums fights against laws that force judges to send convicted criminals away for a set number of years, regardless of individual circumstances. FAMM's message at CPAC was well targeted to the audience. The group's pamphlets highlighted the family of Orville Lee Wollard, a former Seaworld employee in Florida who was sentenced to 20 years behind bars in 2009 for firing a warning shot inside his home to scare off his daughter's violent boyfriend...The topic of criminal justice reform received some time on CPAC's main stage on Friday morning. A panel discussion featured Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who talked about reforms in his state; anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, who sees mandatory minimum sentencing as a big waste of taxpayer dollars; and former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who joined the push for prison reform after he got out of federal prison last spring." [HuffPost]

SENATE SLEEPOVER! Kate Sheppard: A group of 28 senators will take over the Senate floor on Monday evening for an all-night talk-a-thon on climate change. The senators plan to start their climate-fest on Monday, March 10, after the last votes, and continue until around 9 a.m. on Tuesday. The senators are part of the Climate Action Task Force, which was launched in January. The event, said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), is meant 'to show the growing number of senators who are committed to working together to confront climate change.'" [HuffPost]

MAJORITY OF AMERICANS SUPPORT KEYSTONE PIPELINE - Until a few years ago we still thought Keystone pipeline was a very low-budget beer hat. ABC News: "Support for the Keystone XL pipeline reached a two-year high in the latest ABC News/ Washington Post poll, with the public overwhelmingly saying it would create jobs, while dividing on its potential environmental impact. Two-thirds favor government approval of the 1,700-mile, $5.4 billion pipeline to move oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, up 6 points from 2012, vs. two in 10 opposed. Eighty-five percent think it would create jobs, with 62 percent feeling that way strongly – up 11 percentage points. Views that the pipeline would create a significant number of jobs far outstrip concerns that it poses a sizable environmental risk – an opinion nonetheless held by 47 percent in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Notably, among those who see a risk, 45 percent support the pipeline anyway, apparently persuaded by the perceived jobs benefit. Strong belief that the pipeline will create jobs is up in particular, by 13 to 20 points, among men, political independents, nonwhites and Americans living in the Midwest and the South, regions through which the pipeline would pass." [ABC News]

Robot. Rock. Ro-o-o-o-o-bot: "The architect of the biggest change to nutrition labels in two decades is the founder of a pop culture and arts magazine that lists Daft Punk and David Bowie as contributors...Kevin Grady, a 49-year-old Boston-based graphic designer, might not be who you were expecting to be tapped by the Food and Drug Administration to overhaul the Nutrition Facts panel,... [is]a design director at IDEO and the editor-in-chief/creative director at LEMON magazine..." [Politico]

Matt Laslo has launched a new politics interview web series called "Beers and Bills." In his first edition, Rep. Pete DeFazio talks underage drinking. His underage drinking: "Beer would've been not legally obtained in my teens. We used to drive into a not great neighborhood in Boston [when we were 16] and find some not totally up-and-up person hangin' around and we said 'hey, we'll give you this much money and go in there and buy us.' And we were drinking stuff like Carling Black Label and wasn't too good." [Beers and Bills]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a monkey waking up.

CPAC PERSONALS: WHERE CONSERVATIVE GAYS GO TO... WORK STUFF OUT - Jen Bendery: "It's time again for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, a fantastic event for catching speeches from the nation's leading conservatives and feeling fired up about what it means to be a Republican. It's also a great place for having anonymous gay sex. Like clockwork, CPAC attendees have posted personal ads on Craigslist looking for love while they're in town. Some seem harmless enough, like the 'six foot one, conservative, awesome' guy looking for a conservative woman to check out some sights in D.C. Others get pretty racy, like the 'super discreet' man interested in way more than a D.C. tour with a man. And then some are a little sad, like the 36-year-old man from rural Indiana who needs a man -- NOW! -- and says CPAC is his 'only outlet for this sort of thing.' There's also at least one that's just for laughs: '@CPAC looking for my Allen West -- m4m.'" [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Lab beagles released onto grass for the first time after a lifetime of captivity. [http://bit.ly/1eaJQIO]

- A lava-filled crater in Hawaii collapsing. [http://bit.ly/1hUOVcL]

- Here are the two artists living in life sized hamster wheel. [http://bit.ly/1iklqE4]

- Rethinking smart watches to be less douche-y. [http://bit.ly/1hSBCc5]

- A former NASA scientists is now in the business of making ridiculously realistic-looking cakes that resemble everyday objects. [http://bit.ly/P9YQB6]

- The Hemsworth brothers and a litany of Hollywood stars star in a "Charlie Bit Me" spoof. [http://bit.ly/1cCaq2A]

TWITTERAMA

@elisefoley: “A painting of Bob Beckel is an affront to Islam” - The Five out of context

@nickbaumann: Because everyone knows that people who get warm welcomes at CPAC invariably win the presidency.

@anamariecox: Chumbawamba playing at CPAC has to be someone’s inside joke.

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