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Graphics love to darkblack.

UPDATE:  Uh oh, Skipper.  Dinner with Denny tonight just got a helluva lot more interesting.  Dana Bash just reported on CNN that Fordham is testifying right now before the Ethics Committee.  And that CNN has confirmed that Fordham set up a face-to-face meeting between Hastert's Chief of Staff Palmer and former Rep. Foley back in 2003 — and that CNN has confirmed this with two other sources that are not Fordham.  Methinks Denny and Palmer have some 'splaining to do.

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Well, it is 27 days and counting until the election in November.  It's time for GOP limbo!

Big day of testimony on the Hill today, as the Ethics Committee hears from members of Congress and staffers, including Kirk Fordham, former chief of staff for Tom Reynolds (R-NY), and previously CoS for Mark Foley (fomer R-FL).  WV Rep. Shelly Moore Capito also appeared under subpoena today — she's a member of the page board and says that she was NOT informed of the Foley mess — which truly makes one wonder how hard Shimkus and others were working to keep this information in as small a circle as possible.  Perhaps three of Hastert's top staffers will be able to shed some light on this.  Which begs the question — why would they keep fellow page board members out of the loop entirely?  And why wasn't the safety of the pages the very top of the list of concerns for the Republican leadership?

Maybe someone can ask Hastert that question in Chicago tonight.  Should be a fun evening for Denny and George:

The survival of J. Dennis Hastert as speaker of the House of Representatives will produce an uncomfortable scene today at the Chicago Hilton and Towers. President George W. Bush is the principal attraction at a reception to fund congressional candidates in two suburban Chicago districts — once thought safely Republican but where Democrats now lead. In the wake of the Mark Foley scandal, Hastert's presence at the reception will be an embarrassing distraction.

"We look on this as a Bush event, not a Hastert event," an aide to one of the Republican candidates told this column. But the invitation to the $1,000-a-ticket Chicago fund-raiser lists Hastert, in large type, as its principal host. The speaker seems certain, unwittingly, to take attention away from the congressional candidates. As the most prominent Republican officeholder in Illinois, Hastert could not be removed from this event, as he has been from five congressional campaigns as of this writing.

Hmmm…well, perhaps sailing away on the S.S.Denny has lost a bit of its lustre. At least Hastert still has all those Congressional campaign events around the country, right?

Weeks before the Nov. 7 elections, the Mark Foley scandal and its aftermath have already had a visible effect on Republican prospects: Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds (R-N.Y.), the two men leading the GOP efforts to keep power in the House, have both been largely sidelined from the public campaign.

Under normal circumstances, the House speaker and the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, currently Reynolds, would be in a full sprint in the closing weeks of an election campaign — raising money and rallying partisans to help House members in the most competitive races. Both leaders, however, have drastically curtailed their appearances this month after coming under fire for what critics have called an inadequate response to early warnings about Foley's behavior with House pages.

Reynolds is now battling to hold on to his own district in Upstate New York, while Hastert has been tied down in Washington, holding news conferences and attempting to control the legal and political fallout from the uproar — including demands from Democrats, commentators and at least some Republicans that he resign the speakership. Although speculation has centered on whether Hastert can hang on, and how much the episode is hurting Republicans at the polls, there is already a tangible impact on GOP fortunes.

In the past week alone, Republicans have canceled nearly a dozen campaign events with Hastert and Reynolds. Rep. Don Sherwood (Pa.) — who is one of the GOP's most endangered incumbents after revelations that his former mistress had sued him in Maryland, alleging assault — told both men not to come to his district, forgoing crucial campaign dollars to minimize additional negative news coverage. In addition, at least seven House GOP candidates have donated to charity nearly $20,000 in contributions that they had received from Foley before the scandal broke.

Ouch. Guess not.

Dear Washington Times:  don't blame the alcohol.  Not. Gonna.  Fly.

Well, at least Karl Rove is enjoying the fine Fall weather today, right?  Nope.  Hmmm…nothing like an accusation of arm-twisting a pervy former Republican congressman to stay in office so you can stay in the power chair to make you look like a man who is far more concerned with his own interests and that of clinging to the Republican power wand than keeping minors safe from a predator, eh, Karl?  Classy.

Oh, and FYI, you and your buddies at the Bush White House might want to stop calling your evangelical base "nuts."  They don't like it.  (They didn't like it when Michael Scanlon called them wackos, either — remember that one, from one of your buddy Jack Abramoff's toadies?  Ahhh, good times, eh, Karl?)  Considering you strong-armed Foley into staying in Congress by threatening his potential livelihood after he retired just to maintain a hold on power, Karl, your credibility with the religious folks has to be at an ebb, eh?  Hypocrisy's a bitch, ain't it?

Media Matters has a great compendium of fact versus fiction on the mess that is the Foley scandal.  Well worth a read for everyone.

But, as we all know, it's not just the Foley mess that has Republican candidates running from the Bush White House and their own Rubber Stamp Republican records.  It's also the felony indictments, convictions, and investigations of their GOP cronies…and a whole lot more.  (I was thinking about this last night:  Mark Foley will still be on the ballot in Florida, and Tom DeLay will still be on the ballot in Texas.  Am I missing any other GOP Congressperson still on the ballot under a cloud of scandal stench and/or indictment?)  Thought everyone would appreciate a little round-up of some of the other news around the country of GOP folks trying to run, run as fast as they can from their own records:

The San Jose Mercury News says that Pombo and Doolittle deserve to lose due to rampant corruption, among other things.

Roll Call says Tom Reynolds is fighting on multiple fronts at once, stretching the NRCC so thin to cover incumbent protection for himself and other GOP'ers in trouble, that funding is being pulled from challengers in other districts around the country.

But Reynolds' mounting political peril at home — he trailed Davis by 15 points in a poll released by The Buffalo News over the weekend — illustrates the deteriorating political environment for Republican House candidates across the country and the challenges facing the NRCC as more races become competitive.

"The NRCC is getting spread so thin right now that they've really got to pick and choose where they're going to play," said a Washington, D.C.-based GOP consultant.

Gee, that's just too bad, isn't it? There is a possibility that Dems could pick up three or four House seats in NY — which is a HUGE argument for the 50 state strategy, now isn't it?

– Hell, even David Broder is getting in on the act today.

Had enough?