06/18/2012 06:00 pm ET Updated Aug 18, 2012

HUFFPOST HILL - Obama Shifts Conversation To Embarrassing Kerry/Romney Similarities

President Obama picked John Kerry to play Mitt Romney during debate practice -- no word if Kerry will wear his windsurfing outfit for added out-of-touch Massachusetts pol effect. Allen West won't run for speaker, disappointing advocates of a House select committee on pushups. And a number of West Virginia Democrats are skipping the national convention. Maybe if the organizers pick a convicted felon to introduce the president, they might reconsider. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, June 18th, 2012:

WEST VIRGINIA DEMOCRATS SKIPPING NATIONAL CONVENTION - USA Today: "A trio of West Virginia Democrats will not attend the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. to formally re-nominate President Barack Obama this summer. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Sen. Joe Manchin and Rep. Nick Rahall do not plan to attend the convention, according to state party chairman Larry Puccio, who released the state's convention delegation list today in accordance with party rules. West Virginia's senior Sen. Jay Rockefeller will attend, the state party said. Obama is highly unpopular in West Virginia, a fact most recently reflected in the state's May 8 presidential primary where a federal inmate won over 40% of the vote against him." [USA Today]

@FixAaron: Joe Manchin spoke at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. This year, he's not going.

@meredithshiner: Lucky for Manchin--he's presiding over the chamber right now, which means he won't have to come out to answer DNC ?s.

GOP MEGADONORS MIRED IN FOREIGN BRIBERY INVESTIGATIONS - What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but what happens in Macau will get you all tangled up in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Paul Blumenthal: "The billionaire's business, Las Vegas Sands Inc., faces three FCPA investigations into casino operations in Macau, China. Those investigations center on allegations made by the former Sands China chief executive officer, Steve Jacobs, that payments were made by company representatives in Macau to government officials and deals cut with members of the Chinese mafia known as the Triads... Oil tycoons Charles and David Koch, who have promised to spend no less than $100 million to defeat President Barack Obama and place Romney in the White House, have similar legal concerns. Their company, Koch Industries, is under investigation for potential FCPA violations. The company has already fired a host of employees from the European subsidiary involved in the alleged payments to officials in Africa, India and the Middle East." [HuffPost]

A jury found that Roger Clemens did not lie to Congress, extending the Yankees' Washington win streak: "Former baseball star Roger Clemens was acquitted Monday on all charges that he obstructed and lied to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs as a fast-balling pitcher. The trial was lengthy, the deliberations relatively brief. Jurors returned their verdict after close to 10 hours over several days. The outcome ended a 10-week trial that capped an expensive, five-year investigation into one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball." [AP]

RECKLESS TEA PARTY LAWMAKERS SENDING MAIL - Running tomorrow in Roll Call from John Stanton: "Back in the heady days of the 2010 election, tea-party-backed GOP candidates loved to rail against their incumbent foes' use of Congressional mailing privileges as a symbol of the fiscal dysfunction of Congress and the need for sweeping reforms. So it may come as a surprise to some of their conservative supporters that once safely ensconced in their Congressional offices, many of those same critics have become the biggest users of the House's taxpayer funded mailing system. According to an analysis of House disbursement records, between April 1, 2011 and March 31, 2012, eight of the top 10 users of the franking system have been Republicans, while four of those Republicans -- Reps. Joe Heck (Nev.), Bobby Schilling (Ill.), David McKinley (W.Va.) and Frank Guinta (N.H.) -- ran, at least in part, on criticizing incumbents over their mailing practices."

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Georgia lawmakers cut unemployment benefits to help the state pay back the federal government for an unemployment insurance loan. Turns out lawmakers used bad information to estimate the savings they'd reap, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution: "The law that cut unemployment benefits for Georgia workers may save less money for the state than projected -- money needed to repay $700 million borrowed from the federal government -- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has determined." Georgia also passed a welfare drug testing law using extremely sloppy research, so that's a funny pattern. [AJC.com]

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CHRIS CHRISTIE LINKED TO DYSFUNCTIONAL PRIVATIZED HALFWAY HOMES - Hey, you know who doesn't have ties to mismanaged halfway houses? Vice presidents. NYT: "In response to those pressures, New Jersey has become a leader in a national movement to save money by diverting inmates to a new kind of privately run halfway house... Yet with little oversight, the state's halfway houses have mutated into a shadow corrections network, where drugs, gang activity and violence, including sexual assaults, often go unchecked, according to a 10-month investigation by The New York Times... Since 2005, roughly 5,100 inmates have escaped from the state's privately run halfway houses, including at least 1,300 in the 29 months since Governor Christie took office, according to an analysis by The Times... Mr. Christie, a Republican who took office in January 2010, has for years championed the company that plays a principal role in the New Jersey system,Community Education Centers... Mr. Christie himself was registered as a lobbyist for the company in 2000 and 2001 when he was a private lawyer, according to disclosure reports that his law firm filed with the state. In early 2010, he hired the son-in-law of Community Education's chief executive as an assistant in the governor's office, according to state personnel records." [NYT]

Christie's name is being bandied about for a keynote speaking slot at the Republican convention, which would afford him the opportunity to insult all of America's no-good bums at once. Star-Ledger: "[T]here's another high-profile role that could exploit the Garden State governor's talents and catapult him in the minds of Republican voters already surveying the 2016 field: keynote speaker at the GOP Convention in Tampa. Romney has given no hints about who he'll recruit as a running mate or ask to deliver the plum prime-time address. And Christie's camp won't comment. But people who keep close watch over the governor's career moves privately say keynote speaker makes the most sense because it would allow him to consider a future White House bid while seeking a second term as governor." [Star-Ledger]

Where's Nico now? Rio.

PRESIDENT CHOOSES WEALTHY, ALOOF MASSACHUSETTS POLITICIAN, WHO RAN FOR PRESIDENT ON NOTHING OTHER THAN HATRED OF THE OTHER GUY, TO PLAY MITT ROMNEY - Can't really argue with this. WaPo: "President Obama has tapped Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, to play Republican Mitt Romney in mock debate rehearsals, Obama campaign officials and the senator's office confirmed Monday. Kerry will help Obama prepare for among the most consequential events of his reelection campaign -- the three fall debates against Romney. As the senior senator from Massachusetts, Kerry has studied Romney's career and campaign style for nearly two decades and has first-hand knowledge of his record as governor... It is his perspective on Romney, though, that could be especially valuable for Obama. Kerry was a key surrogate on behalf of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) when he defeated Romney in 1994. And Kerry closely observed Romney's successful 2002 gubernatorial campaign, where his performance in debates against Democrat Shannon O'Brien were believed to have helped him win." [WaPo]

RUBIO REINING IN IMMIGRATION PUSH AFTER BEING ONE-UPPED BY WHITE HOUSE - In this game of policy HORSE, the president just pulled a Jordan dunk from the free throw line, tongue out. No way Rubio can follow that. Tampa Bay Times: "Sen. Marco Rubio is 're-evaluating' his strategy after President Obama on Friday announced his administration would block deportations of young illegal immigrants and allow them to obtain work permits -- a move that tracks what Rubio was trying to accomplish with his Dream Act alternative. 'Frankly, the president's executive action take a lot of momentum out of Sen. Rubio's push for a consensus, legislative solution,' spokesman Alex Conant said. 'The president's action undermines the urgency to pass something before the election -- a hard enough prospect during an election year even before the newly inflamed politics surrounding the issue.'" [Tampa Bay Times]

GOP SENATE CANDIDATE HATES THE POOR, LOVES HUDDLED MASSES - Wisconsin GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde told a crowd last week that he's tired of news items highlighting the suffering the poor and would prefer instead to read about how the Gross Domestic Product is struggling to feed its family. Amanda Terkel: "Hovde made his remarks during a presentation on Friday to the Greater Brookfield Chamber of Commerce. During the Q&A portion of the event, Hovde expressed his support for lowering the corporate tax rate, tackling the country's spending problems and lowering the national debt... 'I see a reporter here,' he said. 'I just pray that you start writing about these issues. I just pray. Stop always writing about, 'Oh, the person couldn't get, you know, their food stamps or this or that.' You know, I saw something the other day -- it's like, another sob story, and I'm like, 'But what about what's happening to the country and the country as a whole?' That's going to devastate everybody.'" [HuffPost]

JUST FYI: ALLEN WEST NOT RUNNING FOR SPEAKER - Congress, nay, the republic, was dealt a serious blow today when Florida Congressman Allen West told an inquiring citizen that he does not intend to challenge John Boehner for the speakership next term. Jen Bendery: "During an appearance on C-SPAN, a caller suggested that West, a Tea Party favorite, take on Boehner (repeatedly pronounced 'Bonyer' by the caller) after the November elections... 'It's very humbling and very honorable that you would think that of me, but I'm a junior Boy Scout up here,' West told the caller. 'I'm learning things every single day.'" Even money says West would replace Kevin McCarthy with a die-cast model of a submarine. [HuffPost]

CAPITOL HILL SINGLE BEER BAN FAIL - HuffPost DC: In February 2009, the D.C. Council prohibited stores in the Ward 6 section of Washington from selling single beers without the permission of local alcohol regulators. In a press release announcing the new law, Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells said that after singles were banned along the H Street corridor in Northeast, there was a significant reduction in calls to police and arrests for public drinking, urination and disorderly conduct in the 6 months that followed. Strangely, the ward-wide ban did not have the same results. In the months after the law took effect, more people called police to complain and more people were arrested for alcohol-related disorderly conduct than during a corresponding period in the previous year. [HuffPost]

WORLD RULERS TO GOOGLE: SHADDUP - Reuters: "Google has received more than 1,000 requests from authorities to take down content from its search results or YouTube video in the last six months of 2011, the company said on Monday, denouncing what it said was an alarming trend. In its twice-yearly Transparency Report, the world's largest web search engine said the requests were aimed at having some 12,000 items overall removed, about a quarter more than during the first half of last year... Many of those requests targeted political speech, keeping up a trend Google said it has noticed since it started releasing its Transparency Report in 2010... In the second half of last year, Google complied with around 65 percent of court orders and 47 percent of informal requests to remove content, it said." [Reuters]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a border collie herding tigers.

TOP 10 SILVERDOCS PICKS - HuffPost DC: "The AFI's annual celebrations of documentaries returns this week. The Silverdocs festival will screen 114 films in only 7 days. Regardless of your interest in the subject matter, each film has the potential to entertain or educate. Alas, it's impossible to consume each feature and short, so we've picked ten of the movies we're especially excited to catch. And we're definitely going to check out the Insane Clown Posse scene." [HuffPost]

By @bradjshannon!

- 5-0, 5-0! The Wire cast & crew sit down with Maxim for a re-up chat. [http://bit.ly/Nb5MJp]

- How many songs on these rock & roll pictographic posters can you figure out? [http://bit.ly/Nb54fb]

- This is a tornado made of fire, because art. [http://bit.ly/Nblggv]

- Conan writes blues songs with kids. [http://bit.ly/NblyE0]

- Game of Thrones, as a romantic comedy? [http://bit.ly/NblGDB]

- Do you like information technology and children's toys? Then you'll just love this LEGO Turing Machine. [http://bit.ly/KgbMMd]

- According to Science, you can unstir things. Caaaarefully. [http://bit.ly/NblNit]


@EricKleefeld: Pretty sure the first sign of Scalia ruling against health care reform was when the Democrats enacted it.

@wexler: Intern #1 to intern #2, on Senate subway: "I feel like my role in our office hasn't been defined. I'm lacking a purpose."

@dbernstein: I hope @JohnKerry starts tweeting as mock-Romney too.



7:00 pm: Chris Hayes is back in DC to promote his new book The Belly Fat Cure: How Crystals' Hidden Power Can Tone Your Core "Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy." Fans of socio-economic analysis will enjoy this book. Fans of subplots involving torrid affairs with lawn boys will not. [Politics and Prose]


8:30 am: Orrin Hatch -- who we insist sounds exactly like the voiceover actor from the Empire Today commercials -- is the guest of honor at a campaign breakfast. [The Monocole, 107 D Street NE]

12:00 pm: Jeff Flake will attempt to explain to his wealthy supporters how keeping out thousands of would-be cheap laborers from this country will make them wealthier. [Sonoma Restaurant]

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Prefabricated office furniture and recirculated air will really bring out the flavor of the steaks and Allyson Schwartz's "Philadelphia Cheesesteak Bash." [Cornerstone Gov't Affairs, 300 Independence Ave. SE]

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