POLITICS
07/30/2010 06:28 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

HUFFPOST HILL - JULY 30TH, 2010

Even with the House frantically debating a series of last-minute, pre-recess bills, pols still delivered all the ridiculous stories we've come to expect on Fridays. Ronald Regan's son is cashing in on his family's name and combating Godless liberals all at once. David Vitter, still radioactive after his prostitution scandal and hiring an aide with a tragically ironic rap sheet, is trolling for cop endorsements. And, lest we forget, Linda McMahon is under attack for her crotch-kicking habit. Happy weekend, everyone, we'll be patiently waiting by our computers for a "poke" from Rand Paul. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, July 30th, 2010:

JUST IN: BEN NELSON TO VOTE AGAINST ELENA KAGAN - "I have heard concerns from Nebraskans regarding Ms. Kagan, and her lack of a judicial record makes it difficult for me to discount the concerns raised by Nebraskans, or to reach a level of comfort that these concerns are unfounded. Therefore, I will not vote to confirm Ms. Kagan's nomination," the Nebraska Senator said in a statement.

Judd Gregg is a 'aye.' The New Hampshire Senator's support brings the number of Republicans backing Kagan to five. He joins Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Richard Lugar. The Senate is expected to vote on Kagan's nomination next week, its last before the August recess.

BREAKING: AL GORE CLEARED BY PORTLAND POLICE - "Portland Police and the Multnomah County District Attorney's office have cleared Al Gore of criminal wrongdoing in the sex assault case filed by masseuse Molly Hagerty. 'After evaluating the materials submitted by PPB I have concluded that I agree with the assessment that a sustainable criminal case does not exist,' said District Attorney Michael D. Schrunk, in a statement. ... Hagerty failed a polygraph test during the course of the investigation, and there was no DNA evidence on the pants she claimed she wore during the alleged incident, according to investigators." http://bit.ly/aTvIZL

The summary provided by the DA:

1. Ms. Hagerty, who has red hair, states she called Mr. Gore immediately following the alleged incident and told him to "dream of redheaded women" seemingly in contradiction to her assertions that she was terrified of Mr. Gore. Two days after the alleged incident Ms. Hagerty also sent an email to the Hotel Lucia stating that she appreciated the business referrals she received from the hotel. She did not mention any problem with Mr. Gore;

2. Witnesses at the hotel where the alleged incident occurred state they do not remember seeing or hearing anything unusual---directly contradicting Ms. Hagerty's published claim in the July 12, 2010 of the National Enquirer that she was "shaking and in shock" and "rushed down the hall and to the lobby where the front desk clerk noticed she was upset was asked if she was OK";

3. Forensic testing of pants retained by Ms. Hagerty as possible evidence are negative for the presence of seminal fluid;

4. Ms. Hagerty has not provided as repeatedly requested medical records she claims are related to the case;

5. Ms. Hagerty has also failed to provide other records related to the case;

6. Ms. Hagerty failed a polygraph examination;

7. It appears Ms. Hagerty was paid by the National Enquirer for her story; and

8. Mr. Gore voluntarily met with detectives and denied all of the allegations.

Gore spokesman Kalee Kreider: "Mr. Gore unequivocally and emphatically denied this accusation when he first learned of its existence three years ago. He respects and appreciates the thorough and professional work of the Portland authorities and is pleased that this matter has now been put to rest."

GOOD RIDDANCE TO JULY! Hottest month ever recorded in the U.S... http://bit.ly/bI1g6s Deadliest month ever in Afghanistan war... http://huff.to/d6gaJA

EARLY VACATION - The House just passed the BP oil spill response bill, the CLEAR Act, on a 209-193 vote. It's a MAJOR overhaul of the oil industry -- so why's the tally so low? Because 21 REPUBLICANS and 9 DEMOCRATS played hooky and skipped off early.

HUFFPOST HILL'S FIRST USE OF "DEMS IN DISARRAY": THEY CAN'T AGREE ON BUSH TAX CUTS - Lucia Graves on the total, complete, irreversible meltdown of the Democratic Party...forever: "Democratic Reps. Tom Perriello and Gerry Connolly of Virginia say their party should stay on message this election season, but it's hard to do when Dems don't agree. The Bush tax cuts will be a pivotal issue in November as candidates hash out how to shrink the deficit and boost the economy, and though Connolly and Perriello often vote together, the freshman lawmakers part ways on whether to extend tax cuts for Americans making over $250,000 per year."

How Speaker Pelosi is messaging the issue (from her interview with David Rogers published today): "We would welcome the distinction between tax cuts for the middle class. And tax cuts for the wealthiest people in the country holding hostage the tax cuts for the middle class."

ETHICS SUBCOMMITTEE RECOMMENDS "REPRIMAND" FOR RANGEL - WaPo: "The subcommittee that investigated Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) has recommended that the embattled lawmaker face just a 'reprimand,' a mild form of punishment similar to that given to Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) when he was rebuked in 1997. Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) told reporters Friday that his four-member investigative subcommittee did not seek the high-level punishments of censure or expulsion, opting for a mid-level sanction that requires the full House to approve it but carries no 1other penalty." http://bit.ly/9ghc9k

The folks at Credo Action have collected over 250,000 signatures for a petition calling on the White House Correspondents Association to award Helen Thomas' vacated seat to NPR. http://bit.ly/cf4Xxv

WHCA President David Jackson, of USA Today, declined to comment on the matter, and Fox News did not reply to a request for comment. But NPR issued a statement Friday trying to distance itself from the petitions: "NPR would like to make it clear that we are not involved in any way in the petitions now circulating... We have no position on the petitions, and no comment on the other media organizations that are competing for the seat." http://politi.co/dACQU4

DWINDLING RETIREMENT SAVINGS "UNDISCUSSED EXPLOSIVE BOMB" - Laura Bassett making your day just that much less cheery: "Aside from stagnant wages, soaring unemployment and plummeting home values, the major tragedy of this recession is the havoc it has wreaked on the retirement incomes of millions of Americans who have planned and saved their entire lives, only to watch that money drain out of their accounts much sooner than they anticipated. Retirement statistics are grim. The percentage of American workers who said they have less than $10,000 in savings grew to 43 percent in 2010, according to a recent survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Nearly a quarter of the workforce said they have postponed their planned retirement in the past year and a CareerBuilder.com survey reports that 61 percent of workers say they are now living paycheck to paycheck, as compared to 43 percent in 2007." http://huff.to/cRsY9j

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Senate Democrats want to cut $6.7 billion in future food stamp funding to help pay for Medicaid and education funding for states. For some reason this is more feasible than closing the loophole that allows obscenely rich investment fund managers to pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries. Vote's on Monday.

ARTHUR DELANEY COMMISSIONED READER POLL: Which is sadder? Cutting food stamp funding or cutting $25 per week from unemployment benefits? :(

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are way pissed at the White House for saying one thing while doing another (pulling a "Snooki?"). They are "irate that the Obama administration has promised Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) $1.5 billion in farm aid while claiming it can't pay a landmark legal settlement with black farmers. Six members of the Congressional Black Caucus wrote to President Obama on Thursday calling on him to find a way to compensate black farmers who suffered discrimination in government loan programs during the 1980s and 1990s." The Hill: http://bit.ly/bpFttB

TOMORROW'S PAPERS TODAY - Washington Post: Dana Milbank on how talk-show host Glenn Beck has at times spoken against violence, but he more often forecasts it. -- AND -- David Ignatius says the Obama administration and Congress are running scared from the gun lobby. It's the kind of situation, he says, that makes foreigners wonder if good governance has taken a holiday.

NEXT WEEK'S OBAMA TODAY - From the White House: "On Monday, the President will speak at the national convention of Disabled American Veterans in Atlanta, Georgia. He will address our ongoing drawdown in Iraq as we near the goal of ending our combat mission at the end of August, as well as our support for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. And he will discuss the Administration's commitment to serve our veterans as well as they have served us.

"On Tuesday, the President will host a Town Hall at the White House as part of his Forum with Young African Leaders next week to discuss their vision for transforming their societies over the next fifty years.

"On Wednesday, the President will deliver remarks at the AFL-CIO Executive Committee Meeting. In the afternoon, the President will depart for Chicago, Illinois.

"On Thursday, President Obama will visit a Ford plant in Chicago, Illinois. The President will also attend fundraisers while in Chicago. In the evening, he will return to Washington, DC.

"On Friday, the President will attend meetings at the White House."

OBSERVERS SAY OBAMA RESTORING U.S. CLOUT IN ASIA - AFP: "The Obama administration is now reviving much of Washington's old clout in Asia as missteps by rising giant China prompt its smaller neighbors to turn to the US as a counterweight, analysts say...Obama, who calls himself the first "Pacific" US president as he was born and raised in Hawaii, has also visited the region although he has twice postponed plans to travel to Indonesia, where he spent part of his childhood. 'We haven't seen this kind of diplomatic attention by the United States to the region at senior levels, where it counts, for a long time,' said Douglas Paal, who has served in previous US administrations."http://yhoo.it/drdJ7c

Not dead yet: A group of progressive lawmakers have sent their colleagues a letter encouraging the adoption of a single-payer health system: "Now that a new health care bill has been signed into law, it has never been more important to have a strong movement behind Medicare for All," wrote Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers. "The truth is not enough. We already know that such a health care system has repeatedly proven to control costs more effectively, cover everyone or almost everyone, and deliver care of significantly higher quality than health care systems that tolerate the presence of private health insurance companies. Now we must make it so that the truth can no longer be ignored." Letter: http://bit.ly/9yEiy3

WE THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW - "According to North Korean lore, Kim Jong-il's birth was foretold by a swallow and heralded by a glorious DOUBLE RAINBOW and the appearance of a new star. His official biography says he was born on White-Headed Mountain, the highest peak on the Korean peninsula. On top of the mountain sits the volcanic Heaven Lake." http://bit.ly/zQry

Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

GINGRICH: PALIN WILL MAKE PRESIDENTIAL RUN - In an interview with the conservative publication Newsmax, the former House speaker, himself rumored to be mulling a presidential campaign, listed the politicians he anticipates will make a White House run. "There are going to be lots of Republicans running -- Gov. Romney clearly, Gov. Palin, Gov. Huckabee, Gov. Mitch Daniels, Gov. Haley Barbour, Gov. Tim Pawlenty. I think John Thune, the senator from South Dakota, is probably going to get in. Ron Paul's probably going to run again," Gingrich said. The Hill: http://bit.ly/9m0Bvu

TWO WRONGS (MAKE) THE RIGHT: SANTORUM HEADING TO IOWA, WILL MEET WITH STEVE KING - It appears our dream of a presidential bid by renown dog fornication opponent Rick Santorum might be coming true ("Santorum 2012: He Won't Screw The Pooch"). His swing next month will include visits with businessmen, Republican candidates and everyone's favorite congressman, Steve King. http://bit.ly/94ilVh

Republican Texas Senator John Cornyn will give a speech to a meeting of the Log Cabin Republicans. "Despite being against same-sex marriage and opposing efforts to repeal the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy for gays, the Texas Republican told Scripps Howard News Service that he would attend the event to open a dialogue. 'Some things we won't agree on,' he said. 'But I think it's always better to talk and then try to find those things we can agree on rather than just assume there's no common ground whatsoever.'" Dallas Morning News: http://bit.ly/bQt28p

Speaking of Republicans pandering to unlikely constituencies, David Vitter is trying to receive the endorsement of the Louisiana Sheriffs' Association despite his history as a john and hiring a women's issues aide who was charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend. TPM: http://bit.ly/9c6oAY

CRIST AHEAD IN FLORIDA - A day after a poll found Jeff Greene overtaking Kendrick Meek in the Democratic primary, a new Quinnipiac survey of the general election renders that finding a wee bit moot. Crist leads with 37% of the vote with Marco Rubio pulling in 32% and Green 17%. If pitted against Meek, it's Cirst 39%, Rubio 33% and Meek 13%. http://bit.ly/bhzXzq

Really sticking to his free-market guns, Colorado gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis is refusing to return the 300 grand he earned for "writing" those plagiarized articles. Colorado Independent: "McInnis has so far avoided making any arrangements to pay back to the influential conservative Hasan Family Foundation the $300,000 he was paid to produce a series of water articles he plagiarized. After repeated failed attempts to recover the money or to workout a payment plan with McInnis, the foundation has now handed the matter over to its attorneys." Uh oh! http://bit.ly/aXWzXa

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's Sammy, the static electricity dog: http://bit.ly/aJ71S7

Yesterday we reported that a group of senators were going after alcoholic energy drinks but neglected to mention that the Senate voted to increase the penalties for pot brownies. TPM: "Yes, the same week that Congress significantly reduced the racially-charged crack-powder sentencing disparity, they also voted to create one between pot brownies and dime bags. The Senate voted to pass by unanimous consent (that it, without a roll call vote) S. 258, known colloquially as the Saving Kids From Dangerous Drugs Act of 2010, introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and co-sponsored by Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Charles Grassley (R-IA)." http://bit.ly/awYEyv

Happy National Cheesecake Day, America! To commemorate this joyous holiday, here is a capitalized, superlative-laden HuffPost slideshow: http://huff.to/cjRKkF

TEA PARTY CANDIDATE OUTS LINDA MCMAHON AS KICKER OF GROINS - A new campaign spot for Peter Schiff, a Tea Party-backed primary challenger to Connecticut Senate candidate Linda McMahon, the candidate's campagin accuses McMahon of financially supporting Democrats. The accusations are interwoven with the same clip of McMahon kicking some guy in the crotch in a WWE ring. The clip serves as a reminder to voters that McMahon used to be an executive for the wrestling league. http://bit.ly/aIFg6E

As if Michigan didn't have enough problems: "With only days remaining before Michigan's primary election, former State Rep. Leon Drolet has filed a 10-page anti-defamation suit against one of his challengers, current state Rep. Kim Melzer, who accused him in a campaign flier of trying to legalize gay sex in public parks and restrooms." Detroit Free Press: http://bit.ly/a5zZOX

RAND PAUL WANTS TO FRIEND YOU - We're still waiting for "100,000 pokes for Barbara Mikulski." The Atlantic's Chris Good: "Paul announced today that he wants to add 100,000 new friends on Facebook this Sunday, via a Facebook "bomb," setting his faithful to work recruiting them. (The top five recruiters get to be something like real friends with him; they'll have lunch with Paul in person.)" http://bit.ly/9sO22F

Because Gmail is a fluoride-laced liberal conspiracy to advance the homosexual agenda, Michael Reagan, son of Ronald, is selling @reagan.com e-mail addresses. "People who believe in true Reagan Conservative Values are unwittingly supporting the Obama, Pelosi and Reid liberal agenda! What do I mean? Well, every time you use your email from companies like Google, AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail, Apple and others, you are helping the liberals. These companies are, and will continue, to be huge supporters financially and with technology of those that are hurting our country," Reagan wrote. CBS News: http://bit.ly/aUO5L6
As we mentioned yesterday, the President told the ladies of "The View" that he didn't know who the Jersey Shore's Snooki is, despite mentioning her in his WHCD speech. Today the RNC released a policy breifing entitled "Less GTL, More GDP Mr. President." http://bit.ly/bGE3EQ

JEREMY THE INTERN'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: It's a great night for outdoor activities. A thin layer of clouds have kept the temperature down to the mid-80s. It should fall to the high 70s. Saturday: Expect high-80s, with less cloud cover. Sunday: While it might not be a total washout, expect rain. A nice morning will mean a bad afternoon. Go golfing tomorrow instead. Thanks, JB!

Jeremy advertisement: I'm available for parties. Sign us up, JB!

COMFORT FOOD

- We can barely contain ourselves. Daft Punk's score for the upcoming Tron movie has been leaked. http://bit.ly/c0BgRt

- Jimmy Fallon as Neil Young singing "Double Rainbow." Is it just us or does Fallon do a better Neil Young than Neil Young? http://bit.ly/beVEII

- Original concept drawings for "Back To The Future 2" http://bit.ly/d8IE8d

- Some amazing stunts with ladders. http://bit.ly/bjwgbU

- A truly inspired, and sick as all get out, .gif file. http://bit.ly/bnfisc

- An animal orchestra. http://bit.ly/dzGAbI

- The hilarious "Markets Of Britain'" from the folks at Boing Bonig proves the spirit of Monty Python lives on. http://bit.ly/dvi9BL

TWITTERAMA

@KagroX: On C Street and picking up a WiFi signal called "Holyspirit." Creepy! I feel my spiritual stance widening.

@elliottjustin: bit close to Ground Zero for my taste RT @NewYorkObserver Goldman Sachs' Battery Park City Plans http://bit.ly/cMRvGU

@brianbeutler: Whoa, Anthony Weiner brought a soundtrack with him to the House floor. http://bit.ly/cNT5lR

THE TUBE

TONIGHT: Linda Sanchez and Sam Stein were on Ratigan's show. Mike Pence is on Political Capital with Al Hunt. Claire McCaskill weighed in on the 9/11 health bill on Hardball. Ed Schultz talks to Gary Peters about job creation.TOMORROW: Jennifer Granholm is on Situation Room.

SUNDAY SHOWS

Meet the Press: Admiral Mike Mullen, Mike Bloomberg, Alan Greenspan, Ed Rendell, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Mark Halperin.

This Week: Nancy Pelosi, Robert Gates, Donna Brazile, Paul Krugman, Ahmed Rashid, George Will.

Face the Nation: Mike Mullen, Jon Kyl, Richard Haass, Thomas Saenz.

State of the Union: Carl Levin, Lindsey Graham.

ON TAP

TONIGHT

5:00 pm - 8:30 pm: Jazz in the Garden this week features trombonist John Jensen [Smithsonian Sculpture Garden, 700 Constitution Avenue NW].

8:20 pm - 10:20 pm: The Rosslyn "I Love The 90s" Film Festival this week screens "Dumb and Dumber" [Gateway Park, 1300 Lee Highway].

8:30 pm: The Discovery Channel kicks off Shark Week with a free screening of "Ultimate Air Jaws" about the flying great white shark [Veterans Plaza
850 Ellsworth Drive, Silver Spring].

SUNDAY

2:00 pm: Head over to Meridian Hill Park where there will be a flash mob dance performance. Put this music on your Mp3 player http://bit.ly/dtgFHF and bring headphones. [Meridian Hill Park, 1600 W Street NW].

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm: The Midcentury Modern Film Series puts on a free screening of "The Incredibles" [Textile Museum, 2320 S Street NW].

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