POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Looks Like John Cornyn Will Have To Find A New Texas-Themed Bar

04/08/2014 06:03 pm ET | Updated Apr 08, 2014

Steny Hoyer clarified that he has never smoked pot, so we'll have to find another explanation for that half-grin he's always flashing. Eric Holder wished Louie Gohmert luck with his asparagus, but Steve King's cantaloupes didn't get a shoutout. And corporations, including Koch Industries, are donating to GOP candidates despite reaping millions from Obamacare -- maybe they're frustrated by the reception on their Obamaphones? This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, April 8th, 2014:

KOCH INDUSTRIES LOVES OBAMACARE - Charles Babington: "Several big corporations have reaped millions of dollars from 'Obamacare' even as they support GOP candidates who vow to repeal the law. This condemn-while-benefiting strategy angers Democrats, who see some of their top congressional candidates struggling against waves of anti-Obamacare ads partly funded by these companies. Among the corporations is a familiar Democratic nemesis, Koch Industries, the giant conglomerate headed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. They and some conservative allies are spending millions of dollars to hammer Democratic senators in North Carolina, Alaska, Colorado, Iowa and elsewhere, chiefly for backing President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., renewed his criticisms of the Kochs this week. In a Senate chamber speech, Reid noted that Koch Industries benefited from a temporary provision of the health care law. The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, Reid said, 'helped the company pay health insurance costs for its retirees who are not covered by Medicare.' Reid asked sarcastically: 'So it's OK for Koch Industries to save money through Obamacare' even as Koch-related groups seek the law's repeal." [Associated Press]

'Good luck with your asparagus' is today's hottest Hill trash talk, Ryan Reilly reports: "Attorney General Eric Holder snuck in a diss against Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) at a congressional hearing on Tuesday, referring to when the conservative member of Congress said that Holder cast 'aspersions on my asparagus.' Last May's malapropism, in which Gohmert likely used the vegetable instead of the like-sounding 'character,' became a viral moment. After an intense back-and-forth with Gohmert at Tuesday's hearing, Holder quipped, 'Good luck with your asparagus.' Holder was visibly angry after Gohmert said that being held in contempt was 'not a big deal' for the attorney general." [HuffPost]

HARRY REID'S KRYPTONITE - Jon Ralston: "Never before has a politician with so much disdain for the media, and so little understanding of it, ascended to such power. So when Reid’s normally top-notch team bungled the response to the FEC inquiry, they not only let what should have been a one-day story become a multi-day Reid-bashing extravaganza—they also revealed just how much trouble the majority leader can get himself into when his safety net fails him. The Senate majority leader has one of the savviest teams in the business, both in his office and on the campaign side. He needs it. These folks usually protect Reid—who has no self-editing mechanism—or at least turn deep self-inflicted wounds into paper cuts. But not even his Praetorian Guard can insulate Reid when it comes to his weakness for family, which was exposed a decade ago when the Los Angeles Times raised questions about his sons’ lobbying activities. (Reid has one daughter and four sons, all of whom are at least tangentially involved in Nevada politics.)" [Politico]

HuffPost Haircuts: Igor Volsky, Dave Jamieson, Deen Freelon (h/t/ Kate Sheppard).

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Several unemployed people whose benefits had been cut off joined Democrats outside the Capitol today to demand John Boehner let them have their unemployment benefits back. Charece Peterson came from Philadelphia with a sign that said, "I am selling my clothes to survive!" It was her second trip to Washington since benefits lapsed in December. The Philadelphia Unemployment Project, a group that advocates for jobless workers, helped coordinate her visit. Peterson, 38, told HuffPost she lost her nursing job last February and has only received one job offer since then -- for a home health care position paying less than the minimum wage. Unemployment, she said, has been demoralizing. "You don't even want to get up in the morning," she said. [HuffPost]

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DOJ REVIEWING WHETHER JAMES CLAPPER LIED TO CONGRESS - We can neither confirm nor deny that "least untruthful" is the greatest piece of bureaucratic jargon we've heard in quite some time. Ryan Reilly: "The Justice Department is reviewing materials sent by members of Congress asking for the prosecution of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for lying to Congress, Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday.But Holder said he was not in a position to confirm any investigation into Clapper forhaving told Congress in March of 2012 that the National Security Agency does not collect information on millions of Americans. That statement preceded the revelation last summer of the agency's large-scale phone records collection program Clapper later told NBC News in June he gave the 'least untruthful' answer possible about the NSA's surveillance program. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) asked Holder to disclose whether the department was conducting an investigation, citing a provision of DOJ guidelines that allows officials to disclose an investigation when it is of public interest." [HuffPost]

RETIRED SEC LAWYER SPEAKS OUT AGAINST 'TIMID' WALL STREET ENFORCEMENT - Bloomberg: "A trial attorney from the Securities and Exchange Commission said his bosses were too “tentative and fearful” to bring many Wall Street leaders to heel after the 2008 credit crisis, echoing the regulator’s outside critics. James Kidney, who joined the SEC in 1986 and retired this month, offered the critique in a speech at his goodbye party. His remarks hit home with many in the crowd of SEC lawyers and alumni thanks to a part of his resume not publicly known: He had campaigned internally to bring charges against more executives in the agency’s 2010 case against Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) The SEC has become 'an agency that polices the broken windows on the street level and rarely goes to the penthouse floors,' Kidney said, according to a copy of his remarks obtained by Bloomberg News. 'On the rare occasions when enforcement does go to the penthouse, good manners are paramount. Tough enforcement, risky enforcement, is subject to extensive negotiation and weakening.' Kidney said his superiors were more focused on getting high-paying jobs after their government service than on bringing difficult cases. The agency’s penalties, Kidney said, have become 'at most a tollbooth on the bankster turnpike.'" [Bloomberg]

WEED ADVOCATES HITTING THE HILL THIS WEEK - Or at least it'll feel like a week... actually... how long has it been?...whoa. Time: "More than 100 marijuana-legalization advocates went to Washington to lobby lawmakers on a subject that has seen little action in Congress despite a rising tide of Americans supporting legalization for medical purposes. Medical-marijuana supporters flocked to Capitol Hill on Monday to push for legislation that would prohibit the federal government from restricting state medical-marijuana laws. “We’re doing this work,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, a pro-medical-pot group that brought 152 people to Washington to lobby 300 members of Congress. “It’s not just a bunch of potheads [saying], Please let us do this.' The House bill would offer legal clarity to the growing number of states that are legalizing medical marijuana even as it remains illegal under federal law. New York might become the 21st state to legalize medicinal marijuana this year, but the Drug Enforcement Agency considers marijuana a drug on the same level as heroin, and the Justice Department under the Obama Administration hasn’t always been consistent in its level of prosecutorial restraint and its willingness to defer to state laws." [Time]

We can only imagine this interaction was accompanied by a lot of awkward winking and earlobe tugging: "House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer was asked to comment on Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's decision to sign a state marijuana-decriminalization law. 'The Legislature has passed it. Essentially, when you say they decriminalized it, as I understand, that means simply no consequence for a small amount and a fine for a larger amount,' Hoyer told a room of reporters Tuesday. 'It's clear that we have an awful lot of people in our prisons who are suffering from a criminal conviction, which have done things—I'm not going to ask for a show of hands. If I did, I could raise my hand, I just don't know how many others in the room could raise their hands." Laughter erupted in the room, with some asking for a clarification: What are you raising your hand in saying? 'It was subtle,' Hoyer said. 'The use thereof, or the trying thereof, inhaling or not.' An attendee offered, 'experimentation,' to which Hoyer repeated, 'experimentation.'" [National Journal]

No, Hoyer has not smoked pot.

HUSBAND OF WOMAN WHO MADE OUT WITH VANCE MCALLISTER SPEAKS OUT - Feel-good story all around. Not Scott Desjarlais feel-good, but a whole lotta fuzzy feelings, to be sure. CNN: "The husband of the woman caught making out with Rep. Vance McAllister said the Louisiana Republican destroyed his life and marriage. 'I’m just freaking devastated by the whole deal, man. I loved my wife so much. I cannot believe this. I cannot freaking believe it. I feel like I’m going to wake up here in a minute and this is all going to be a bad nightmare,' Heath Peacock told CNN Tuesday. On Monday, The Ouachita Citizen in West Monroe, Louisiana, published a surveillance video it says shows McAllister and his scheduler, Melissa Hixon Peacock, passionately kissing in his office last December. Heath Peacock said he didn’t know about the episode until Melissa called him a couple hours before the news broke. 'He has wrecked my life,' Peacock, 34, said of McAllister. 'We’re headed for divorce.' Heath and Melissa Peacock have been married for six years and have a 6-year-old son." [CNN]

Be sure to check out the local pastor who says it was wrong for someone on McAllister's staff to leak the video.

GOP REP: EQUAL PAY PUSH 'CONDESCENDING' TO WOMEN - Yeah! Women don't want to be mansplained into making as much money as men do! Mike McAuliff: "Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), the GOP conference's vice chair, made her comments flanked by her fellow leaders in the House at their weekly news conference, and suggested that the campaign for equal pay for equal work reflects a lack of understanding of women's contributions to the workforce. 'Please allow me to set the record straight. We strongly support equal pay for equal work, and I'm proud that I live in a country where it's illegal to discriminate in the workplace thanks to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964,' said Jenkins. 'Some folks don't understand that women have become an extremely valuable part of the workforce today on their own merit, not because the government mandated it.' Jenkins went on to belittle Democratic efforts on the issue. 'Many ladies I know feel like they are being used as pawns, and find it condescending [that] Democrats are trying to use this issue as a political distraction from the failures of their economic policy,' Jenkins said." [HuffPost]

Gimme 50ccs of good publicity, STAT: "Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who is challenging Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) in a close Senate contest, put his professional background as a physician to use when he helped treat a passenger who had lost consciousness on a Monday Southwest Airlines flight. The Times-Picayune reports that Cassidy, along with another doctor on board, took the man's shirt off, laid him flat on the airline seats and helped him regain consciousness after being unable to detect a pulse. 'He even talked a little about the Senate race,' Cassidy told the paper." [HuffPost's Samantha Lachman]

VOLUNTARY PART-TIME WORKERS ARE HAPPY - Republicans would have you believe 40 hours per week is the only amount of work that can make people happy, but it's not. Carol Graham and Milena Nikolova: "In an analysis of Europe and the U.S., based on Gallup World Poll data, we discovered that voluntary part-time workers were happier, experienced less stress and anger, and had higher job satisfaction than other employees." Why don't we have a three-day weekend every week? No good reason. [Brookings]

A little POLITICO-on-POLITICAL hate in this "Morning Joe" writeup: "POLITICO’s Ben White and BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith brought an ongoing debate over Jeb Bush's presidential prospects to MSNBC’s 'Morning Joe' on Tuesday...MSNBC’s Chuck Todd threw out a trivia question for Smith and White, asking what 'Jeb' stands for. While White started responding in terms of the policies Bush stands for, Smith responded that Jeb is actually an acronym for 'John Ellis Bush.' 'Gotta know these things, these are little pieces of trivia,' Todd said. 'And this is his most fervent supporter here, and he doesn't know his name,' Smith said, referring to White. 'Who's the Jeb base? Look at that.'" [Politico]

Never stop being you, Mississippi: "Under Mississippi’s mandated sex-education curriculum, teachers are required to instruct students that homosexual activity under the 'unnatural intercourse' statute is illegal, and that a 'monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the only appropriate setting for sexual intercourse.' Since 2012, Mississippi has required all school districts to offer an abstinence-centered sex-ed curriculum, although 12 percent of districts have not yet implemented any sex-ed courses, according to a recent study by the Center for Mississippi Health Policy. The law also requires male and female students to be instructed in separate classrooms and prohibits condom demonstrations in schools." [HuffPost's Shadee Ashtari]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is Momo, a lovable Border Collie.

CAPITOL HILL WESTERN-THEMED GAY BAR TO CLOSE - And unless Texas' congressional delegation throws a really weird Friday night party in Ted Cruz's office that we don't know about, Capitol Hill's gay cowboys will have to look for fun elsewhere. WCP: "Another death has come to Capitol Hill. With the old Hawk 'n' Dove buried, dirt still fresh on the graves of 18th Amendment and Lil Pub, and Pour House and Top of the Hill in hospice, Remingtons has confirmed that it will close its doors after happy hour on Monday. Was the bar, an utterly non-updated country western gay spot with some of the worst carpet in the Southeast quadrant, in need of a facelift? Sure. But when I stopped in on Saturday night to watch some guy belt out Man of La Mancha showtunes during karaoke, the decor was a nonissue. If you want to cram into a glossy box of cool people and sip a cocktail for the price of a dinner entree, there are plenty of places on 14th Street NW (and increasingly the Hill) that will take your $14. If you want to wear whatever the hell you want and chat with decent, friendly strangers over cheap beers, your options in my neighborhood are rapidly depleting." [WCP]

COMFORT FOOD

- Dad photobombs daughter's heartfelt rendition of "Let It Go" from "Frozen." [http://bit.ly/1hdj4Vj]

- A man asks pedestrians if they'd have sex with Paul Rudd... with Paul Rudd present. [http://bit.ly/1g3ZLtf]

- Pressing '0' is not actually the best way to bypass automated phone menus. [http://wrd.cm/1jYHnXC]

- ASL rap battles are the best rap battles. [http://bit.ly/1knSfks]

- The voice of Winnie the Pooh reads Darth Vader's lines. [http://youtu.be/eLXTDirrQ5w]

- The creators of "Archie" are going to kill off the titular comic book character. Dark. [http://cnn.it/1lHToRd]

TWITTERAMA

@aburnspolitico: Sean Eldridge, taking a page out of 2007, refers to @politico as "a D.C.-based blog" blogs.hudsonvalley.com/fray/

@timkrepp: Then they came for Remmington's, and I said nothing -- because I'm not a gay cowboy.

@indecision: "Obama is only pushing paycheck fairness to appeal to his base," said Republicans trying to appeal to their base.

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