Bill O'Reilly to Kucinich: 'I'm Your Best Friend'

Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) are the latest odd couple. The conservative pundit and former anti-war presidential candidiate are blaming high gas prices partly on price gouging.

Kucinich appeared on O'Reilly's show Wednesday to talk about his call for the impeachment of President Bush and for an investigation into oil companies' price manipulation. While O'Reilly disagreed with Kucinich over an impeachment, the pundit said he backs the congressman's efforts to look into price gouging.

"Bill O'Reilly and Kucinich, together at last," Kucinich said.

Read part of the transcript and watch the must-see video below.
KUCINICH: Well, you know what [oil companies are] doing? They're actually standing back while all the speculation is going. It has nothing to do with supply and demand.

O'REILLY: Absolutely.

KUCINICH: Driving the price of oil.

O'REILLY: Get them. Look.


O'REILLY: ... Congressman..

KUCINICH: You know what?

O'REILLY: ... I'm your best friend on that issue.

KUCINICH: (inaudible) something.

O'REILLY: You ought to take all of your time, knock off the dopey partisan impeachment stuff.


O'REILLY: It's ridiculous.


O'REILLY: Get those bad guys.


Report: Abramoff Influenced White House Actions, Had Personal Contact with Bush

Imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff influenced some White House actions and offered expensive meals and tickets to White House officials, according to a proposed report released by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today.

The report also states that Abramoff had personal contact with President Bush, and that high-level White House officials held Abramoff in high regard and sought recommendations from him on policy issues.

The committee, headed by Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), today announced the release of the proposed report, which the committee will mark up Thursday.

See the report and the committee's announcement here.

112 Organizations Call for Whistleblower Protections

In a letter to members of Congress today, 112 organizations are calling for action on legislation to protect whistleblowers at federal agencies.

The effort was spearheaded by the Government Accountability Project, Public Citizen, the Project On Government Oversight, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. The group also includes the American Civil Liberties Union, Society of Professional Journalists, American Association of Small Business Owners, and Consumers Union.

The House and Senate have passed whistleblower protection bills authored by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii). The 112 organizations are calling on the two chambers to conference those bills and vote on a final version.


"Government workers who warn us of waste, fraud and abuse should be protected, not punished,


Waxman Calls for Release of FBI's Interviews with Bush and Cheney

Citing the recent allegations of former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) today called on the Department of Justice to release FBI interviews with President Bush and Vice President Cheney relating to the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson's identity.

McClellan, in his new tell-all book, has alleged that Bush and Cheney were involved in delivering false information to the public regarding the Plame leak.

In December, Waxman requested materials related to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of the leak. That investigation led to the conviction of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby for his involvement. Waxman received redacted interviews with Libby and former White House aide Karl Rove.

But Waxman today said that McClellan's allegations warrant the release of Bush and Cheney's interviews as well. See Waxman's letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey below:

Wasserman Schultz: Judiciary Committee Willing To Arrest Rove If He Doesn't Testify

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said that the House Judiciary Committee would be willing to arrest Karl Rove if the former White House official doesn't testify about his role in the firing of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006.

Wasserman Schultz, in an interview on MSNBC Tuesday, echoed the demand of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) that Rove would not be allowed to invoke executive privilege to avoid testifying. Rove could not invoke the privilege since he said he did not have conversations with the president about the attorneys' firing, Wasserman Schultz said.

Asked by MSNBC host Dan Abrams if the committee would go far as having Rove arrested, Wasserman said it would.

"Well, if that's what it takes," she said. "I mean we really cannot allow the co-equal branch of government, the legislative branch, to be trampled upon by the executive branch. The founding fathers established three branches of government. We are a co-equal branch, and this is an administration that essentially has ignored and disrespected the role of the legislative branch for far too long."

Rove said Sunday that the Judiciary Committee has refused to take up offers by his lawyer and the Bush administration that would allow the committee to find the information it's seeking without Rove's testimony.

Watch Wasserman Schultz's interview below.


Banking Committee to Question HUD Nominee

The Senate Banking Committee tomorrow will question Steven Preston, President Bush's nominee to replace Alphonso Jackson as chairman of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Preston looks to face tough questions from the panel's chairman, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), whose reaction to Preston's nomination in April was less than warm.

Man Who Laundered Money For Cunningham Sentenced

A New York man who laundered bribes for former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) was sentenced to more than eight years in a federal prison, the Associated Press reports.

Thomas Kontogiannis had pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering. Prosecutors said that he had helped Cunningham launder hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to Cunningham from defense contractors.

Cunningham, who pleaded guilty in 2005 to accepting about $2.4 million in bribes, is serving more than eight years in prison.

Two contractors also linked to Cunningham have been convicted on charges that they gave kickbacks to Cunningham for help in obtaining government contracts.

Rep. Kirk Slams Second Life On House Floor

Rep. Mark Kirk, who wants to ban Second Life from public schools and libraries, invoked the specter of virtual suicide, human sacrifice and rape in a House speech Wednesday railing against the virtual world for posing dangers to minors:

"Second Life. It's not just a new job or a new start, it's a virtual world online with over six million people. Run by the San Francisco company Linden Lab, Second Life allows anyone in their world to do anything. And the Labs make $1 million each night. And what is offered in Second Life? My staff found rooms leading to people to commit suicide, satanic worship, buying assault weapons, leading human sacrifice and rape rooms. Game players choose to rape or be raped. This content is totally inappropriate and leads to the objectification lessons that are especially inappropriate for young boys. Linden Lab claims it provides a teen area, but the fine print of their user agreement clearly states that adults prowl in the children's area and children are in the adult area. Second Life's K Street lobbyists say, trust us, but I think we should trust informed and aware parents."

Kirk has also sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking it to warn parents of Second Life.

Linden Lab has responded to Kirk's attacks by noting that it requires its members to verify their age before joining.

Read a snippet here, courtesy of Virtual Worlds News:

"As with many online service providers, the sheer volume of in-world activity and the ephemeral nature of the creative content prevents Linden Lab from policing all in-world activities at any given moment. However, while Linden Lab itself does not create most of the content within Second Life -- which is designed by its Residents -- we do work hard to ensure that our Residents' experience is enjoyable, safe and legal."


Gates Calls For More Flexible, Modernized Military

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the United States' military needs to prepare to for the threats of "smaller, irregular forces" that have spurred on military conflicts in the past 25 years.

In a speech at the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday, Gates said that another major American conventional ground operation is unlikely in the near-future.

"[I]t is hard to conceive of any country confronting the United States directly in conventional terms -- ship to ship, fighter to fighter, tank to tank -- for some time to come," he said. "The record of the past quarter century is clear: the Soviets in Afghanistan, the Israelis in Lebanon, the United States in Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Smaller, irregular forces -- insurgents, guerrillas, terrorists -- will find ways, as they always have, to frustrate and neutralize the advantages of larger, regular militaries."

Gates added that the United States has strength in its Navy and Air Force, which can defeat "any -- repeat, any -- adversary who committed an act of aggression."
"It is true that we would be hard-pressed to launch a major conventional ground operation elsewhere in the world at this time - but where would we sensibly do that?" he said.

Gates welcomed more scrutiny of military spending, especially when money is used for war and not to modernize forces.

"First, I believe that any major weapons program, in order to remain viable, will have to show some utility and relevance to the kind of irregular campaigns that, as I mentioned, are most likely to engage America's military in the coming decades," he said.

He said that programs such as the Army's Future Combat Systems, which calls for a group of manned and unmanned forces working together, must demonstrate its value for the "irregular challenges" the country will face to justify its cost, which could exceed $200 billion.

Ex-State Official: State Dept. Misleads Congress, Public about Iraqi Corruption

A former State Dept. official told the Democratic Policy Committee (DPC) today that the department has misled Congress and the American public about corruption in the Iraqi government.

Arthur Brennan, who briefly served in Baghdad as head of the State Dept's Office of Accountability and Transparency in 2007 according to the Associated Press, told Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) that Ambassador Ryan Crocker is either misleading the American public about corruption in Iraq, or is unaware of the corruption due to his own negligence.

Brennan made his statements at a DPC hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. The DPC circulated a video of the exchange today; see it below:

When contacted for response, State Dept. spokeswoman Nancy Beck told The Hill, "As we