08/06/2014 05:16 pm ET Updated Aug 06, 2014

HUFFPOST HILL - Stephen Fincher, Dressed In His Finest 'Life Is Good' Shirt And Making Eyes At A Jack Johnson Concert

The notoriously out-of-touch GOP circulated a press release praising Uber, a significant improvement from their last one, "Nickelodeons: Wholesome Fun For Our Restless Striplings." A congressman said he enjoys beach music and sex, which would be good politics if his district were a Billabong store. And D.C. will vote on marijuana legalization, after which point, bootlegs of 50-minute live renditions of "Sugar Magnolia" and comments about the color of air will be the new Smart Takes. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, August 6th, 2014:

HIGH SPEED RAIL SUCKS, WILL CONTINUE TO SUCK - The Times takes a look at the state of American rail travel, which is primarily used as a catalyst for disgruntled tweets about substandard Wi-Fi signals... also for transporting people. Times: "The Obama administration has spent nearly $11 billion since 2009 to develop faster passenger trains, but the projects have gone mostly nowhere and the United States still lags far behind Europe and China, where some trains can top 220 m.p.h. Although Republican opposition and community protests have slowed the projects here, transportation policy experts and members of both parties also blame missteps by the Obama administration — which in July asked Congress for nearly $10 billion more for high-speed rail — for the failures. Instead of putting the $11 billion directly into high-speed rail projects, they say, the administration made the mistake of parceling out the money to upgrade existing Amtrak service, which will allow trains to go no faster than 110 m.p.h. None of the money originally went to service in the Northeast corridor, the most likely place for high-speed rail. Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin, all led by Republican governors, in the meantime canceled high-speed rail projects and returned federal funds after deeming the projects too expensive and unnecessary." [NYT]

The internet raged today over the relative coolness of Washington, D.C., because Forbes said the District is cool. We rate this story four "Is H Street Ready To Break Out?" New York Times profiles out of five on HuffPost Hill's patented lazy style piece rating system.

OBAMA SUGGESTS NEUTRALITY FOR NET - Ashley Alman: "President Barack Obama edged up to questioning the Federal Communications Commission's newly proposed net neutrality rules, a heavily criticized plan that would favor Internet content providers that can afford to pay more for faster delivery of their services…. Obama echoed one of progressives' major criticisms of the new rules at the U.S. Africa Business Forum in Washington on Wednesday, saying he is in favor of 'an open and fair Internet.' 'One of the issues around net neutrality is whether you are creating different rates or charges for different content providers. That’s the big controversy here,' he said." [HuffPost]

What's the matter with Kansas, fiduciary edition: "An ambitious plan to cut income taxes in Kansas will end up costing the state more money than it initially estimated after a key ratings agency downgraded the state’s debt on Wednesday. Standard & Poor’s cited structural imbalances created by the tax cut in its decision to slice Kansas’s bond rating from AA+ to AA. That means Kansas will have to offer a higher interest rate to lenders when it issues new bonds. The package of tax cuts, backed by Gov. Sam Brownback (R) and his conservative allies in the state legislature, was never offset with equal spending cuts, S&P said Wednesday. The lost revenue is expected to eat up much of Kansas’s budget reserves during this fiscal year; S&P said it expected the state to face a $333 million budget shortfall this year." [WaPo]

@frankthorpNBC: Rep Stephen Fincher (R-TN) tweets Pandora link, says he loves "...beach music. AND shagging." Then deletes: pic.twitter.com/0W8YQRIHJh

PLAYBOOK FACTS OF LIFE - "Shagging" is a slang term for human reproduction.

STEVE SCALISE EMPLOYS LOBBYIST TO STAFF OFFICE, OUR CADRE OF DISAFFECTED GOP SELL-OUTS CHIME IN - "Members are advised that the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for a vote on H.Res 943. Members are urged to vote YES. Members are also urged to enjoy FOX's Fall lineup of can't-miss primetime programming and to take advantage of AT&T new low rates on high-speed internet." Politico: "Quinn Gillespie & Associates’ John Feehery sat in on and participated in multiple official interviews with job candidates last month for the new majority whip’s press operation. Scalise has not yet announced who he will name as his communications director. Sometimes lawmakers rely on lobbyists for strategic advice. But inviting a lobbyist into an interview is highly unusual. Several ethics lawyers and current and former leadership aides said they have never heard of a similar arrangement. Scalise enjoys closer relationships with lobbyists than many House conservatives — a reality that is sometimes helpful but also adds to his reputation of being closer to the establishment wing of the party than some in the conference had wanted. Feehery is registered to lobby on behalf of major corporations like AT&T, Sony Corp., Qualcomm, 21st Century Fox and others that have interests before Congress and the House Energy and Commerce Committee, of which Scalise is a member." [Politico]

Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist approves: "I don't blame 'em, he killed on HuffPost Live." Thanks, PSLGOPL!

Former Abramoff Lobbyist Pissed At Things weighs in with his advice for Scalise: "Less talky, more kickbacky," he wrote. Asked for clarification, he said: "FALPAT should be giving Scalise this sort of advice: Do what I want and I will write checks. " Thanks, FALPAT!

A third GOP operative, whom we'll call the Nihilist In Boat Shoes, has a strong take: "Maybe Feehery can write an op-ed about what he saw at the Scalise revolution in a few years and shit all over them. Thanks, NIBS!

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - "In an effort to ensure that those on welfare are actively seeking employment, a new law enacted this week will require recipients of federal aid to periodically submit vials of sweat for measurement by government officials." This Onion story is a mild parody of real life, the only difference being that new laws require welfare recipients to submit vials of piss, not sweat. [The Onion]

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RAND PAUL DISCUSSES DECAMPING - Usually excuses are employed to get away from interviews. This is somewhat novel. Igor Bobic: "Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) sought to explain viral footage showing him hastily moving away from an undocumented immigrant in Iowa on Tuesday. In the video, Paul abruptly gets up from a table and leaves his half-eaten burger behind after immigration activists confronted Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who was sitting across from him, about his vote to end an Obama administration program that delays deportations for young people who were brought into the country illegally as children. The Kentucky Republican said an aide had pulled him aside to do another media interview nearby. 'About five minutes before that or two minutes before that the video doesn't show that another reporter came up and said, 'Will you do an interview?'' Paul told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren. 'And I said, 'I need to take a couple more bites and we'll do an interview,' and then I was told we had to leave and I had to do the interview. So actually I stood about 10 feet from those people who were doing sort of a kamikaze interview and I stood 10 feet from them and did another interview.'" [HuffPost]

REPUBLICANS LOVE UBER - National Journal: "The Republican National Committee blasted out an email Wednesday encouraging supporters to sign a new petition in support of 'innovative companies like Uber,'...much to the chagrin of more traditional taxi fleets. 'Our cities also deserve innovative, efficient, and safe transportation choices without excessive and intrusive bureaucratic red tape,' the email, which doubles as a fundraising pitch, reads...It and similar ride-sharing companies have become hugely popular among young urbanites, but they are barred or restricted in a number of cities. Local officials in Seattle passed a law earlier this year limiting the number of alternative taxi drivers allowed on the road at any given time. Those sort of laws are derided in the email, written by RNC Finance Director Katie Walsh, as attempts 'to block Uber from providing services simply because it's cutting into the taxi unions' profits.'...Wednesday's petition was assembled without Uber's knowledge, and the company is for now choosing to remain mum about the GOP's sudden embrace, other than to say in a statement: 'Everyone loves Uber!'" [National Journal]

Why: "A new trend among conservatives on Facebook is to change one's middle name to 'Benghazi,' the site of a 2012 terrorist attack that the right-wing media insists mainstream news organizations, President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and your mother just aren't paying enough attention to." [HuffPost]

WEED ON THE D.C. BALLOT THIS NOVEMBER - Matt Ferner: "Wednesday morning, the District of Columbia Board of Elections unanimously voted to put Initiative 71, a measure that would legalize adult possession and use of up to 2 ounces of cannabis as well as home cultivation of up to six marijuana plants for personal use, on the Nov. 4 ballot. While the sale and use of drug paraphernalia would be legalized under the measure, sale of marijuana would still be prohibited because current law bars D.C. voters from approving cannabis sales via ballot initiative. The D.C. Council, however, is considering a separate bill that would allow for the regulation and taxation of marijuana in the District. D.C. Cannabis Campaign, the marijuana reform group behind the initiative, submitted over 57,000 signatures in early July and, of those, more than 27,000 were valid, D.C. Board of Elections public information officer Tamra Robinson confirmed to The Huffington Post. The measure needed only 22,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot. According to the Washington Lawyers' Committee, arrest statistics from 2009 through 2011 revealed that nine out of 10 people arrested for drugs in Washington were black, though blacks make up just slightly more than half of the city's population. Yet government surveys show that blacks are no more likely than whites to use the drug." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a pug struggling with a blueberry.

CAPITOL BARBER SHOP STILL SUBSIDIZED - WaPo: "The Sunlight Foundation recently did government watchers a huge service by digitizing three years' worth of Senate expense reports that previously only existed as a mountain of PDF files...According to an analysis by The Fix's indispensable Philip Bump, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, and Marco Rubio burned through the most cash in the past year. The data also show spending for things like the Daniel Webster Senate Page Residence, the child-care center, and the Senate Photo Studio. Also, spending on 'Senate Hair Care Services,' aka the Senate hair salon. The Senate barbershop has existed in some form or other since the 19th century, the New York Times reported last year. It is actually open to the public - Foursquare reports 151 check-ins by 46 visitors. Two recommend asking for 'Meena' if you go. Sadly, it doesn't seem to be listed on Yelp...The data from the Sunlight Foundation show why the Senate shop is constantly in the red - as federal employees, some of the stylists have been paid salaries upwards of $70,000 in recent years. This doesn't even account for health benefits or pensions. According to salary.com, the median D.C. hair stylist makes $27,010 annually, while the top 10 percent of stylists in the region make $38,770. So the federal barbers are enjoying a substantial wage premium." [WaPo]


- Barack Obama sings Fancy."

- Drunk history looks back at the birth of Mickey Mouse.

- Bear walks upright, signalling the coming end of our species... and a viral video.

- NYC subway stop turned into a spa.

- The voice actors from "Pinky and the Brain" read a passage from "Pulp Fiction."

- Solid mass of bees will haunt your dreams.


@daveweigel: RINO RT @TPM: Oklahoma gov will skip local GOP fundraiser with KKK discussion: bit.ly/1sxsobl

@CNNyourmom: Republican Senate Candidates Are Back On Your Mom

@pourmecoffee: To wipe out Obama birth records. Wake up sheeple. RT @Salon: Hawaii's about to get hit by not one, but two hurricanes slnm.us/8TeiI8R

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