Last week Stephanie asked, "Where’s Mitch McConnell?" Well, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has just released its fifth annual report on the 15 most corrupt members of Congress, and the good-government group has an answer: misusing his nonprofit and handing out favors to former clients and staffers.

Senate Minority Leader McConnell, the highest ranking elected Republican, is no stranger to CREW’s survey of the seamy side of Washington. He's been on the list the past two years as well. This year’s list features five new members: Senators Roland Burris and John Ensign; Representatives Nathan Deal, Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Pete Visclosky; and, after a two year absence, Rep. Maxine Waters.

Although Democrats outnumber Republicans on this year's list, Republicans punch well above their weight in this congressional corruption survey, with seven GOP lawmakers on the list, which can be viewed below in its entirety. The full report and individual dossiers on those named and shamed can be viewed at the special site CREW has set up to publicize its findings.

This weekend, thousands of "values voters" will convene in Washington for their annual summit sponsored by the Family Research Council (motto: "Defending faith, family and freedom"). All of the conservative luminaries will be there: Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and maybe even Sarah Palin. (South Carolina Mark Sanford was, sadly, disinvited over the summer.) One group of voters won't be too well represented, however. Event organizers have conveniently scheduled their big DC summit for Rosh Hashanah, meaning that most Jews will be elsewhere, celebrating their biggest holiday of the year just as Bill O'Reilly kicks off the summit's Friday evening plenary session. Not that many Jews were likely to come anyway; the Family Research Council isn't known for its interfaith outreach. But still, for a religious group, the scheduling seems a little insensitive. Perhaps it was intentional, you know, to keep out the mainstream media.

That seems unlikely, however, given that in past years, the FRC summit has been a hotbed of news. In 2007, it was the place to be for aspiring GOP presidential candidates. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee emerged as a major contender, tying in a straw poll at the event with the better-funded presidential contender former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Huckabee's overwhelming win of the on-site voting also showed early on that Romney had not captured the hearts of critical evangelical Republicans, a sign of things to come. Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback also used the event to announce that he was dropping out of the race.

The 2008 summit was less eventful as political activists focused on the elections, but it did make some headlines after reporters discovered exhibitors at the event selling racist anti-Obama junk, including "Obama Waffles," boxes of which featured caricatures of Obama with big lips and wearing a Muslim headdress. But 2009 promises to be a big year for the conservatives, who are once again energized in opposition to the new administration and Democratic Congress. It will also be a testing ground for potential GOP contenders—people like Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and, of course, Palin if she decides to attend. (At this writing, she had been invited but not confirmed as a speaker.) They'll get an early chance to try to woo the influential evangelical foot soldiers of the GOP. But if the candidates want to court the Jewish vote, perhaps they'll have to do it on Christmas day.

 

U.S. Army Soldiers carry a bag filled with food and water that will sustain them while on a multi-day mission near Sar Howza in Paktika province, Afghanistan, Sept. 2, 2009. The Soldiers, assigned to 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, will hide the bag until they return to gather and distribute the contents before moving to a different location. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith.)

Yes, we've all heard that cougars, that pop culture term for older women who prefer younger male lovers, are running rampant. Especially in Palo Alto. But those "cougars" actually have a few things in common with the real, endangered cougars (Felis cougar concolor). The average cougar is only slightly smaller than a woman, measuring 5' to 6' in length and weighing in at 105 to 150 pounds. Cougars, also called mountain lions, pumas, and catamounts, are also known for their "screams" which some say sound distinctly like a woman. Hear for yourself here.

All joking aside, cougars are in trouble. They've been hunted and poached to the point that their natural prey species like deer are creating overpopulation problems. Somewhat ironically, the farmers and ranchers who complained about and sometimes shot cougars now have to deal with depleted grasslands because of exploding deer populations. Even though cougars are federally endangered, and even though there have only been 10 fatalities since 1990, some hunters insist on believing there's actually a cougar overpopulation and that their children and pets are next on the dinner menu. In actuality, the cougar is shy, solitary, and rarely sighted: most interactions with humans end up with the cougar being eventually killed, rather than the other way around.

Today's must-reads:

  • Our radical activist Supreme Court? (The Economist)
  • Dems likely to sanction Joe Wilson for outburst (WaPo)
  • Judge: $33 million settlement over Merrill Lynch bonuses "does not comport with the most elementary notions of justice and morality." (NYT)
  • Andrew Sullivan: Dear President Bush (The Atlantic)
  • Shocker! WaPo publishes another misleading op-ed! (Yglesias)
  • Human Rights Watch's Marc Garlasco slammed for his Nazi memorabilia collection. (NYT)
  • The skinny on Jay Leno's new show (NYT)
  • Cry for the rich, part one: Lehman Brothers, one year later (NYT)
  • Cry for the rich, part two: "World's Wealthy Pay A Price in Crisis." (WaPo)

Seriously, people, can we cut it with the rich people pity party? Anyway, I post pieces like these throughout the day on twitter. You should follow me, of course. David Corn, Mother Jones' DC bureau chief, also tweets. So do my colleagues Daniel Schulman and Rachel Morris and our editors-in-chief, Clara Jeffery and Monika Bauerlein. Follow them, too! (The magazine's main account is @motherjones.)

Don't let honey lurk in your cabinet, quietly crystalizing while you forget about it. Instead, AltUse.com suggests using it to:

1. Soothe a sore throat: Instead of a teabag, add honey and lemon to hot water. Or, if you're feeling brave, mix 1/2 c. vinegar and 1/4 c. honey and gargle. Both solutions work like a cough drop.

2. Clear up acne: Apply a little honey to a blemish and cover with a band-aid. Works best overnight.

3. Condition your hair: Add one tablespoon of plain honey to two teaspoons of oilive oil. Place the mixture in the microwave for 15 seconds or until warm. Rub the mixture into your hair, wrap in a wet towel, and leave on for 20 minutes. Shampoo normally, but lather well to get olive oil out.

4. Dress a wound: In a pinch, honey works as a mild antiseptic. Apply it to to the wound and cover with a band-aid.

5. Exfoliate your skin: Honey crystallized? Use it like a facial scrub to get rid of dead skin. Rinse off with water.

Good morning, troops. Here is what is new and Blue Marbleish here at MoJo and out in the wide world today:

K Street rejoice: Meet the Senate Agricultural Committee's new head, Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln.

Today's healthcare reform question: How do Americans feel about the public option?  Do they (a) support it, (b) oppose it, or (c) not care all that much?

David Corn on Hardball: David Corn and Lynn Sweet talked to Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball about whether the public option is dividing democrats.

Jobs! Get yer green jobs!: Switching from coal to renewable energy could create 2.7 million new jobs, says a new study. [Treehugger]

"We all blew it:" High Country News asks whether white environmentalists failed Van Jones.

"I don't really know what a ton of carbon dioxide looks like." US Representative Michael Burgess,  R-TX, during markup of HR 2454, House Committee on Energy & Commerce.

It should surprise no one that Representative Burgess voted against the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES) when the historic climate bill narrowly passed the US House, just a day or so after the Texas Republican complained that he couldn't see the offending green house gas. If you can't see it; how do you know it's real?

A poll conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine found that nearly 80 percent of American doctors favor the public option in health care reform. The Journal mailed a confidential questionnaire to 2,000 practicing US physicians 65 or younger to explore whether they endorse a public role for the profession.

Respondents were asked to indicate their agreement or disagreement with the following statements:
 

  1. Addressing societal health policy issues, as important as that may be, falls outside the scope of my professional obligations as a physician
  2. Every physician is professionally obligated to care for the uninsured and underinsured
  3. I would favor limiting reimbursement for expensive drugs and procedures if that would help expand access to basic health care for those currently lacking such care

The Journal also asked physicians to indicate whether they objected to using cost-effectiveness data to determine which treatments will be offered to patients.More than half the doctors answered. The results:
 

  • A large majority (78%) agreed that physicians have a professional obligation to address societal health policy issues
  • Majorities agreed that every physician is professionally obligated to care for the uninsured or underinsured (73%)
  • Most doctors were willing to accept limits on reimbursement for expensive drugs and procedures for the sake of expanding access to basic health care (67%)

Physicians were divided almost equally about cost-effectiveness analysis. More than half (54%) reported having a moral objection to using such data "to determine which treatments will be offered to patients."

Interestingly, age, race, and region didn't seem to affect opinions. Female doctors were more likely than males to object to using cost-effectiveness data to guide treatment decisions but otherwise did not differ on other questions.

There were differences in opinion based on the doctor's specialty. Surgeons, procedural specialists, and those in nonclinical specialties were all significantly less likely than primary care providers to favor reform that expands access to basic health care by reducing reimbursement for expensive drugs and procedures.

There were also consistent differences between self-described liberals and conservatives. The 28% of physicians who called themselves conservative were consistently less enthusiastic about professional responsibilities pertaining to health care reform.

The data suggest that some of the more controversial elements currently appearing in reform proposals will likely face serious opposition from segments of the medical profession, including:
 

  • Limiting reimbursement under Medicare (expanding the ranks of the underinsured)
  • Using cost-effectiveness data in treatment decisions
  • Limiting reimbursements for expensive drugs and procedures

The Journal concludes:
 

  • Most physicians see deliberations on health care reform as part of their professional responsibility
  • Conservative doctors need to be engaged for health care reform to succeed