11/15/2012 05:31 pm ET Updated Jan 15, 2013

HUFFPOST HILL - Dick Durbin Is Worried About Your Phenylalanine Intake

John McCain's grumpiness has rocketed past that of an old guy whose bean soup isn't here yet and is fast approaching Walter Matthau levels. Dick Durbin railed against the perils of 5-Hour Energy, so Chuck Schumer's far more publicized condemnation of 6-Hour Energy is surely imminent. And Republicans in Georgia are convinced Barack Obama is brainwashing the country for the United Nations, something we thought Susan Rice was supposed to do when she wasn't coordinating security for American consulates. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, November 15th, 2012:

THE 3:00PM DROWSINESS LOBBY STRIKES - Dick Durbin, just now on the Senate floor, reacting to news 5-Hour Energy drinks may be may have had something to do with some people dying: "Over the past few years we've seen a dramatic increase in sale of energy drinks in America, common fixtures in grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores, everywhere you turn," Durbin said, apparently filling in for Chuck Schumer on the beverage nanny beat. He then held up a huge picture of a 5-Hour Energy bottle. "Everyone is familiar with it everywhere. Literally everywhere. I watched on television over the last week they are advertising a promotion of 5-Hour Energy saying some of the proceeds from the sale will go to promote research of breast cancer. There's almost a suggestion there's something healthy about this product." We'll miss you, 5-Hour Energy.

DEMS IN DISARRAY, PT. A GAZILLION - Two senators up for reelection in 2014 are causing Harry Reid a headache. Go figure. Roll Call: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., tried to discourage a group of Senate Democrats from sending a letter to President Barack Obama this week, concerned that its suggestions for solutions to the fiscal cliff would make Democrats appear divided. Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., told fellow Democrats at a caucus lunch Wednesday that he was working on the letter and seeking signatures, sources said. But Reid suggested that the letter, which was being organized by Rockefeller and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, would be a bad idea because it would give the impression that Democrats were not united on how to address the fiscal cliff...The letter, which has yet to be sent, calls on Obama to strike a deal on the fiscal cliff that has a 1-1 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts. As of Wednesday night, it had at least 13 signatures, sources familiar with the letter said. A draft of the letter seen by Roll Call did not include the names of the other signatories." [Roll Call]

The corporate CEO rolled out by Fix The Debt to preach fiscal rectitude is as deeply debt-laden as you can get.

REPUBLICANS PREPARING WATERED-DOWN DREAM ACT - So it might be appropriate to call it the Daydream Act, or the Hallucination Act or the Feverdream Act or the Hypnic Jerk Act. Daily Caller: "The Daily Caller has obtained details of an ACHIEVE Act proposal being floated by some senate Republicans. It appears similar to the conservative alternative to the Dream Act that Sen. Marco Rubio worked on last summer (before President Obama issued his executive order, effectively tabling the issue until after the election). Essentially, the proposal involves several tiers: W-1 visa status would allow an immigrant to attend college or serve in the military (they have six years to get a degree). After doing so, they would be eligible to apply for a four-year nonimmigrant work visa (also can be used for graduate degrees.) Next, applicants would be eligible to apply for a permanent visa (no welfare benefits.) Finally, after a set number of years, citizenship 'could follow…'" [Daily Caller]

WE GET AT LEAST TWO MORE YEARS OF THIS GUY! AP: "Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais testified during divorce proceedings that he and his former wife made a 'mutual' decision for her to have two abortions, according to divorce transcripts released Thursday. The 2001 court transcripts were released by the state Democratic Party, which had tried to air the documents before the Nov. 6 election. A DesJarlais spokesman didn't immediately return a message seeking comment. DesJarlais easily won a second term despite revelations that he once urged a patient with whom he was having an affair to get an abortion. DesJarlais, whose campaign platform opposed abortion, acknowledged the conversation but said he was only trying to get her to admit she wasn't pregnant. The transcripts show that woman testified under oath that she had been pregnant. She declined to elaborate on the outcome of the pregnancy. On his campaign website, DesJarlais espoused an anti-abortion position, saying: 'All life should be cherished and protected. We are pro-life.'" [AP]

Our own Mike McAuliff broke the story about DesJarlais pressuring his mistress -- who was also his medical patient -- to get an abortion.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - A host of advocacy groups brought citizens to the Capitol today for a Bernie Sanders-led press conference about Social Security and things like that. Barbara Gibson, 51, said she came to the event after a friend knocked on her Northwest Washington, D.C. door last week and told her about OurDC, a nonprofit that has staged many anti-Republican and pro-jobs protests at the Capitol in the past year. The union-backed group brought tens of people in orange and black jackets and hats to Thursday's event. (A couple OurDC dudes tried, unsuccessfully, to prevent yours truly from interviewing people in a Dirksen hallway.) Gibson said she's been unemployed since losing her security guard job in 2010 after she took three months off following surgery to have her gallbladder removed. She said she didn't receive benefits from the programs under discussion at the event, but supported OurDC's message about jobs. "I don't get Social Security, I don't get nothing," she said. "I just want a job."

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

PETRAEUS SPEAKS - And the former CIA director divulged one of the most shocking secrets of all: Headline News still exists. Nick Wing: "Former CIA Director David Petraeus has broken his silence to Kyra Phillips of Headline News, whom he told that he had never passed any classified information to his biographer and mistress, Paula Broadwell. 'He has insisted to me that he has never passed classified information to Paula Broadwell,' Phillips said Thursday on HLN, relaying the conversations that she'd had with Petraeus in the week since the scandal broke. 'As long as I have known him, he has never wavered on classified information ever. And to the best of my knowledge, you know, that has always been sacrosanct.' Phillips also said that Petraeus had told her the timing of the scandal 'has nothing to do with Benghazi,' and that he fully planned to testify this week on the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. compound in Libya. According to Phillips, Petraeus admitted to her that he had 'screwed up terribly' and that he 'felt fortunate to have a wife who is far better than he deserves.'" [HuffPost]

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MCCAIN MISSES BENGHAZI BRIEFING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT LACK OF BENGHAZI INFORMATION - T-minus five months until he's asking if the Senate president is denying him additional speaking time because the keys he's asking about are in his pocket. ABC News: "Senator John McCain is demanding answers on the Benghazi attack, but his office tells ABC News he missed a classified briefing on the subject because of a 'scheduling error.' The classified briefing was held on Wednesday before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee -- of which Senator McCain is a member -- and lasted three hours. It featured testimony by officials from the State Department, the Pentagon, the CIA and the National Counterterrorism Center. During part of the briefing, McCain was holding a press conference demanding answers about the administration's handling of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya on Step. 11 that killed four Americans, including US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. McCain called on Congress to launch Watergate-style hearings to get to the bottom of what happened." [ABC News]

Frisbees! All over his lawn! "Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was less than willing to entertain questions Thursday on why he held a press conference Wednesday to complain about lack of information on the September attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, while simultaneously skipping a nearly two-hour classified briefing with administration officials about the investigation. CNN’s Dana Bash reported on air that McCain, when questioned by a producer on the subject on Capitol Hill, not only refused to answer, but grew 'very angry.'...'Asked why he wouldn’t comment, McCain grew agitated: 'Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?'" [HuffPost's Sabrina Siddiqui]

GIFT-GATE: GOP THROWING ROMNEY OVERBOARD - Yesterday, details emerged about comments Mitt Romney made during a call with some of his top donors about President Obama's election strategy. Romney believed that Obama gave blacks, Latinos and young people "gifts," making it sound like college graduates could return their health care for store credit. Today, Republicans began to trash their former standard bearer. Jon Ward: "Two of the Republican party's brightest young stars have made comments in recent days clearly repudiating the 2012 Republican nominee. Second-term Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, 41, went first, telling The Huffington Post on Tuesday that Romney's campaign was 'too much about biography' and did not lay out a compelling and bold vision of conservative governance. But then, after Romney told donors on a call Wednesday that President Obama won by giving 'gifts' to African-Americans, Latinos, young voters and women, Jindal -- the first Indian-American to be elected governor -- really let loose. 'I absolutely reject that notion, that description. I think that’s absolutely wrong,' Jindal told reporters at the Republican Governors Association annual meeting in Las Vegas. Politico described Jindal as 'visibly agitated' when asked about Romney's remarks." [HuffPost]

@mpoindc: "I don't agree with the comments," says Kelly Ayotte of Romney's "gifts" comments on @mitchellreports.

Karl Rove adds to the Monday morning quarterbacking, this time with echoes of Grover Norquist's "poopy head" comment. "Mitt Romney had what I scientifically call a butt-ugly primary,'' he told an audience at Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy. He added that the primary had "way too many debates'' and got bogged down in social issues rather than economic ones. [HuffPost's Nick Wing]

RUBIO WON'T SUPPORT TAX HIKES - We suspect he would like GOP operatives in Des Moines and Manchester to know this fact. Elise Foley: "Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Thursday there isn't much point in raising tax rates on the wealthy, because they also have the money to hire people who will help them get out of paying taxes. 'The billionaires and millionaires that are going to be impacted by higher rates, they can afford to hire the best lawyers, lobbyists and accountants in America to figure out how not to pay those higher rates,' Rubio told National Journal’s Major Garrett at The Atlantic Washington Ideas Forum. 'The people that are going to get stuck by that bill are the small businesses, the partnerships, the S corporations, that cannot hire the lawyers to get them out of it.'" [HuffPost]

Rubio also hopes that people in Colorado, Virginia, Florida, New Mexico and Nevada read this: "Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has been a long-time advocate for a humane approach and softer rhetoric on immigration reform. He's warned fellow Republicans for more than a year that they are hurting themselves with Latino voters...Rubio gave a prime example of his message on immigration at The Atlantic's Washington Ideas Forum on Thursday, saying as he has before that, 'it's really hard to get people to listen to you on economic growth, on tax rates, on health care, if they think you want to deport their grandmother.'" [HuffPost]

BLACK PEOPLE AND BLACK PEOPLE AND BLACK PEOPLE, OH MY! - Republicans in rural Maine are convinced they are victims of some kind of New Black Panther ACORN conspiracy wherein African Americans are appearing out of nowhere in their quiet Franco-American hamlets like Shoeless Joe from the Iowa cornfield. Luke Johnson: "Charlie Webster, the outgoing Maine Republican chairman, claimed Wednesday in an interview that 'hundreds' of black voters cast ballots in rural Maine towns, contributing to the party's losses. 'In some parts of rural Maine, there were dozens, dozens of black people who came in and voted on Election Day,' he said in an interview with WSCH TV. 'Everybody has the right to vote, but nobody in town knows anybody that's black -- how did that happen? I don't know. We're going to find out.'" Get back to us quick now, ya here! [HuffPost]

It gets better, jurisprudence edition: "The White House announced on Wednesday that President Obama has nominated Judge William Thomas, an out gay man, to serve on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Thomas would be the first out LGBT black man to serve as a lifetime-tenured federal judge." [BuzzFeed]

THE REPUBLICAN PARTY PROBABLY ISN'T CHANGING ANYTIME SOON - At least if the Georgia GOP is any indication. Gawker: "Last month, the watchdog group Better Georgia managed to record nearly a full hour of a four-hour closed door meeting of Republican state senators which was convened by Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) to discuss President Obama's efforts to brainwash Americans on behalf of the United Nations. The briefing, held on October 11th at the Georgia state Capitol, was led by truther/birther Field Searcy, a conservative activist deemed too extreme by the local Tea Party, and revolved around Agenda 21 -- the voluntary, non-binding UN effort to promote sustainable development that has riled conspiracy theorists for years...Whether the Georgia lawmakers in attendance took Searcy's mind-control conspiracy to heart remains to be seen, but they certainly got their money's worth. Literally: According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 'several senators claimed their per diem for attending the session.'" [Gawker]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Baby elephant is pleased as punch to be on the beach.


- Comedian reads "Fifty Shades of Grey" in fifty different celebrity voices. [http://chzb.gr/Sq2MrT]

- "7 Sites You Should Be Wasting Time On Right Now" [http://huff.to/ZQDpVy]

- Forget Google Maps or Google Earth, the tech company has s released a map of OUR SOLAR SYSTEM (you need Chrome for this). [http://bit.ly/UDrtqW]

- Neil Young plays one of our favorites, "The Needle and the Damage Done" and one other on "The Johnny Cash Show" in 1971. [http://bit.ly/SkI7Wi]

- WTFLevel.com tracks swearing on Twitter. [http://bit.ly/U4q7PW]

- This person performs illegal operations and shuts down... in real life. [http://bit.ly/TIKaFJ]

- Why doesn't MTV play music videos any more? "Because you're getting older and you're afraid." [http://bit.ly/PWpsne]


@emptywheel: Beginning to make a mental list of all the things O Admin will dump into Turkey Coma Memory Hole next Wednesday night.

@FakeAPStylebook: When quoting from a news release, pick the most nonsensical sentences to let people know what it's like to have to read those things.

@daveweigel: My question: Which Newsnight staffer will get the 47% tape from which college buddy?



4:00 pm: Steny Hoyer, who is fated to be the Democratic number-two until the sun explodes and consumes our puny celestial orb, welcomes new members of the Democratic caucus for a meet and greet. [500 North Capitol Street]

6:00 pm - 7:00 pm: Senator-elect Deb Fischer takes a victory lap and tries to pay down some campaign debt at her "Victory Reception." [NRSC, 425 2nd Street SE]

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