03/25/2013 05:50 pm ET

HUFFPOST HILL - Senators Bravely Endorse Popular Thing

George W. Bush's presidential library will open in May but, wouldn't ya know it, all its copies of "The Pet Goat" are already on loan. People were shocked to learn of a proposal in the Nevada legislature that would allow betting on elections... because no one ever made dirty money off of politics in Nevada. And the White House irritated conservatives by inviting Captain Planet to the Easter Egg Roll but INCENSED conservatives by not offering him a tour. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, March 25th, 2013:

TIM JOHNSON TO RETIRE - Consolation pints of ice cream and/or bottles of Cupcake Vineyards for Michael Bennet to consume while crying can be sent to The Honorable Senator Michael Bennet, 458 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510. Reuters had the scoop: "Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat, does not plan to run for re-election when his current term ends in 2014, sources close to the matter and key Capitol Hill staffers said on Monday...His retirement would leave a vacant seat in a conservative-leaning state that could be difficult for Democrats to defend as they try to protect their majority in the Senate. Political analysts expect Johnson's son, Brendan Johnson, who is South Dakota's U.S. attorney, to emerge as a potential Democratic candidate in the 2014 election. The younger Johnson has not announced any formal plans to seek the Senate seat. Former Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, who lost a bid for reelection in 2010, is another leading choice to run if the incumbent senator retires...Overall, 35 of the 100 Senate seats are up for election in 2014, of which 21 are now held by Democrats and 14 are held by Republicans." The smart money though is on Mike Rounds, popular-ish former GOP governor. [Reuters]

The bravest act of bravery in the history of brave bravery: "@BuzzFeedAndrew: Senator Tim Johnson's spokesman tells me he no longer supports #DOMA." So brave of that future lobbyist.

Jack Reed is currently in line for the Banking Committee spot, but Chuck Schumer has the most seniority. This is all assuming Democrats even have a gavel in 2015 to fight over.

MARK WARNER SUPPORTS SAME-SEX MARRIAGE - The Supreme Court will hear Prop 8 and DOMA arguments tomorrow, so... early bird gets the worm? Sabrina Siddiqui: "Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) added his name Monday to the growing list of Democrats who support gay marriage, less than 24 hours after Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) made public her reversal on the issue. The Virginia senator, who is up for reelection in 2014, announced the news on his Facebook page: 'I support marriage equality because it is the fair and right thing to do. Like many Virginians and Americans, my views on gay marriage have evolved, and this is the inevitable extension of my efforts to promote equality and opportunity for everyone.'" [HuffPost]

From the department of We Don't Need No Stinkin' Gub'ment: "Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) says he's not worried about facing blowback from his constituents over the steep budget cuts brought on by sequestration... But a survey of local news reports in Isakson's home state paints a very different picture, with Georgians in all sectors of society -- the military, education, health care and transportation -- worried about how they will grapple with the $85 billion in federal spending cuts to programs across the country." [HuffPost's Sam Stein and Amanda Terkel]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - At its worst point during the Great Recession, the national unemployment rate reached 10 percent in October 2009. But a new survey by The Huffington Post and YouGov finds that most Americans have experienced unemployment at some level in the past five years. And perhaps that experience is why few Americans have confidence in political parties' abilities to address the ongoing unemployment crisis. "We have a horrible unemployment and underemployment situation, and we don't want to step on corporate toes because then you're against the capitalist system," jobless retail industry analyst George Romey said in an interview. "Companies used to use layoffs when business was bad. Now they use layoffs to boost the bottom line." Romey, 53, lost his job in February and is unsure how fast he'll be able to find a new one. He's already making plans to move from New York to live with his brother in Florida to save money. Sorting out one's life post-layoff these days is part of the American experience. The survey finds that 23 percent of Americans have been unemployed and looking for work at some point in the past five years, and another 35 percent have someone in their immediate family who'd been jobless. [HuffPost]

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BACHMANN CAMPAIGN UNDER INVESTIGATION - Daily Beast: "[F]ederal investigators are now interviewing former Bachmann campaign staffers nationwide about alleged intentional campaign-finance violations. The investigators are working on behalf of the Office of Congressional Ethics, which probes reported improprieties by House members and their staffs and then can refer cases to the House Ethics Committee... on Monday Bachmann’s campaign counsel, William McGinley, of the high-powered firm Patton Boggs, confirmed that the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) was looking into the congresswoman’s presidential campaign last year...Former staffers tell The Daily Beast that investigators have allegedly asked about allegations of improper transfer of funds and under-the-table payments actions by Bachmann’s presidential campaign, specifically in relation to the campaign’s national political director, Guy Short, and Bachmann’s onetime Iowa campaign chairman, state Sen. Kent Sorenson. Questions directly about Bachmann, they said, have been primarily focused on what she knew about those men’s actions and when she knew it." [Daily Beast]

Nancy Pelosi has a new new media person: Tanya Somanader, previously of CAP and the Obama campaign.

CAP IS JUST ROLLING IN FOUNDATION MONEY - The Center for American Progress pulled in nearly $20 million from philanthropic groups in 2012, more than half of its funding base. That total represents a dramatic change for the liberal think tank, which at its beginning eschewed foundation money, taking less than a million dollars total from such groups over its first two years. Founded in 2003, CAP is, in many ways, the brain trust of the Washington-based Democratic Party, serving as something of an administration-in-exile during the Bush years..."What CAP was really responding to when we started was a problem on the progressive side, that everything was so issue-focused, in part because foundation funding was so issue-focused," said CAP President and CEO Neera Tanden. CAP does not publicly disclose its donors, but the fundraising numbers were provided to HuffPost by a CAP source and confirmed by Tanden. The biggest shift came between 2008 and 2009, the year that the Democrats took over the White House and CAP sent many of its senior staffers into positions of authority there. CAP founder John Podesta headed the transition. Philanthropic foundation giving jumped from just under $7 million in 2008 to $17 million in 2009. That increase represented almost the entire financial growth of the organization over that period, as total funding rose from $28 million in 2008 to $38 million in 2009. [HuffPost]

Tennessee effectively has a health care lottery. Shouldn't they televise it to raise money? Which dying person will get saved? Who will the audience of taxpayers let die? Ratings gold.

OBAMA RENEWS PUSH FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM - Elise Foley: "President Barack Obama said Monday that he wants to see movement in the Senate on immigration reform next month and passage of a bill 'as soon as possible,' continuing his pressure on Congress to move quickly to fix the immigration system... immigration reform talks...are moving forward in the Senate but have not yet resulted in the introduction of a bill. The so-called 'gang of eight' in the Senate is working to finish its immigration bill before Congress returns from recess in the second week of April. As of Friday, the bipartisan group of senators still needed to finalize several issues, including how to deal with wages that could be affected by the future flow of guestworkers. Obama said he expects them to meet that timeline and put forward a bill in April. He didn't put an exact time frame on when he wants to see passage of legislation, although he urged swift movement. During a Jan. 29 speech in Las Vegas, Obamasaid he would put forward his own bill if Congress failed to act, but for now he is waiting for the efforts in both chambers to move forward." [HuffPost]

Meanwhile, a fight the White House doesn't actually expect to win...: "The Obama Administration says despite Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision to exclude the assault weapons ban from comprehensive gun control for lack of votes, the President still supports it and urges the Senate to vote publicly on the proposal to eliminate 'military-style weapons' from American streets as an amendment. Speaking in today’s White House Briefing, Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said 'it will be a question for all 100 members of the Senate to ask themselves about whether or not they think that voting for and supporting an assault weapons ban would actually do something to reduce gun violence in communities all across the country.'" [ABC News]

An Italian newspaper has a deep dive on Teneo, the Doug Band and (former?) Bill Clinton global operation. We'd excerpt it, but it's in Italian. But it's not the kind of piece Teneo will like.

OXYMORONIC INSTITUTION TO OPEN - Star-Telegram: "After 2 1/2 years of construction -- and several years of planning -- work on the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the edge of Southern Methodist University is down to the finishing touches. Workers are busy arranging exhibits, beginning the last phase of landscaping and addressing other final details before the center, a tribute to the 43rd president, is unveiled to an invitation-only audience April 25 and to the general public May 1...The reality is a 226,560-square-foot center that houses a library and a museum, presidential archives, a public policy institute, the Bush foundation and a 15-acre park, all honoring Bush's two terms in office. The red brick-and-limestone building features signature architecture such as Freedom Hall, whose 67-foot tower has a lantern that glows at night." [Star-Telegram]

JOHN ROBERTS TO RECEIVE HISTORY'S MOST INTENSE AMICUS CURIAE - We're one step closer to John Roberts becoming a hero in The Castro. A lot of undergraduate theater majors are going to have a field day with that. Politico: "An openly gay cousin of Chief Justice John Roberts who wants to marry her partner will be in the room during this week’s Supreme Court hearings on Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, and she predicted her relative will 'go in a good direction' on the case. 'He is a smart man,' Jean Podrasky, a 48-year-old accountant from San Francisco, told the Los Angeles Times. 'He is a good man. I believe he sees where the tide is going. I do trust him. I absolutely trust that he will go in a good direction.' She will be attending the hearings alongside her partner of four years, Grace Fasano... Podrasky is sitting in a court section reserved for Roberts’s friends and family. Podrasky went through Roberts’s sister, Peggy, and the justice’s secretary to get the tickets. Roberts is aware his cousin will be in attendance." [Politico]

Gay rights have come a long way. Times: "The pace of change continues to surprise gay rights supporters. In his youth, [Barney] Frank said, he realized he was drawn personally to men and professionally to government. He assumed the former would impede the latter. 'At this point,' he concluded, 'I think my continued sexual attraction to men is more politically acceptable than my attraction to government.'" [NYT]

IMPORTANT NEW JERSEY UPDATE - It's not an organ harvesting ring run by a group of rabbis, but this definitely ranks among the more sensational stories to come out of the Garden State. John Celock: "A New Jersey assemblyman's kinky emails to a lobbyist who was later arrested on stalking charges have been revealed, shedding light on a relationship he has long denied. Assemblyman Joe Cryan (D-Union Township) had emailed lobbyist Karen Golding hundreds of emails with sexually charged content, including bondage and public sex fantasies, during the course of a relationship in the middle part of the last decade, the New York Post reported Monday...The release of the emails between Cryan and Golding is now prompting an investigation, since the emails had been sealed by a state court, The Star-Ledger reported on Monday." [HuffPost]

As if Intrade wasn't having a bad enough year, the government is moving in on its business. Political Wire: "Nevada state Sen. Tick Segerblom (D) has introduced a bill to allow people to bet on presidential and other federal elections, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. He said the bill could be expanded to allow betting on the Academy Awards and other non-sporting events." [Political Wire]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Corgi puppy goes toe-to-toe with a door stopper.

At least one conservative outlet is amused/miffed that Captain Planet will appear at the White House Easter egg roll. "The 1990′s cartoon superhero was created by liberal media mogul Ted Turner and environmental activist Barbara Pyle to encourage kids to care about the earth," The Examiner's Charlie Spierling explains. "Captain Planet and his 'Planeteers' teamed up after after Gaia, the spirit of the Earth, bestowed on them the power of the elements to defend her from harm. Also, Captain Barnacles will attend, however America's ship hull builders were doing fine at the time of publication. [Examiner]


- Meerkat does its best impression of a domesticated animal and nods off. [http://bit.ly/10da9ra]

- If you've already heard Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" performed on a gayageum, you don't need to click on this link. [http://bit.ly/ZnxsfP]

- The internet's newfound interest in goats continues: Behold this wee kitten that sounds a lot like a goat. [http://bit.ly/X8417b]
- This happened: "10 Street Fighter Characters Using Actual Insults From 'Girls'" [http://bit.ly/WRs9IO]

- For the nerd on the go, all six "Star Wars" films at once. [http://bit.ly/14jtTPt]

- It's not what we say, it's how we say it: Louis C.K. discusses the many meanings of "oh my God!" [http://bit.ly/16de3UY]

- Children react to the Grumpy Cat, the internet's crabbiest feline. [http://bit.ly/14pLghY]


@timothypmurphy: Just remember the deadline for "I've evolved on gay marriage" statements is *tonight* at midnight, EST.

@elisefoley: Good transcription from my voicemail system: "Hi Elise at dishes keep them apples"

@Mr_Berman; No need to be so blunt RT @washingtonpost: D.C.'s first medical marijuana joint is almost ready to roll wapo.st/14q6In4

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