If things get a bit uncomfortable for members of Congress and Obama administration officials, they'll have Darrell Issa to blame for that. Since news broke last June that federal lawmakers and other VIPs had received sweetheart loans through what Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo dubbed his "Friends of Angelo" program, the California Republican and ranking member of the House oversight committee has been leading the charge to investigate the matter. He says his investigation has "uncovered evidence that only a fraction of those who participated in Countrywide’s VIP program have come to light," and Issa has every intention of flipping on the floodlights of accountability.

But there's a hitch. While Bank of America, which acquired Countrywide in 2008, has agreed to provide Issa with documents that he's requested, it will only do so under subpoena. Obtaining that subpoena will require a full committee vote and the cooperation of oversight committee chariman Edolphus Towns, who has been seemingly reluctant to open this can of worms. In fact, Towns declined to sign his name to the letter [PDF] Issa sent to BofA CEO Ken Lewis in early June requesting the "Friends of Angelo"-related documents. Why? According to the Wall Street Journal:

A spokeswoman for Mr. Towns said the Friends of Angelo program wasn't on the chairman's priority list, which includes oversight of the nation's financial crisis, the financial bailout of banks and the giant federal financial stimulus package.

The Sanford Affair

Mark Sanford's latest adminssion in the saga renders moot all other theories about why he spent the last week in Argentina without telling anyone: He was having an affair.

"I've been unfaithful to my wife and I've developed a relationship with what stared as a dear, dear friend from Argentina," he finally said. The affair has been going on for a year, he later explained.

Sanford announced that he is resigning as head of the Republican Governors Association.

"I spent the past five days of my life crying in Argentina," he said, "so I could come back and cry here."


From the Department of Oh Noes: Britney Spears, whose pre-shaved-head acting debut in Crossroads blew us away, is now allegedly “in talks” to star in a movie involving the Holocaust. And time-travel. And, sigh, L'amour. Here's the reported deal: the movie is called The Yellow Rose of Sophia and Eton, and the protagonist is a young woman named Sophia LaMont who creates a time-machine and goes back to the 1940s. She meets an undoubtedly hot if skinny young man named Eton. The hitch? He’s a concentration camp prisoner! Oh no! And he’s Jewish, but that’s not as much of an issue as the whole “imprisoned by Nazis” thing. What will Sophia and Eton do? Will their love survive Hitler’s evil scourge? Well, no. See, the star-crossed lovers zip out of WWII, but when they get to the future (and this is where it gets weird) they are THEN killed by Nazis.

Predictably, Jewish advocates and organizations are not happy about the casting, or the film itself. "In films that deal with the Holocaust, the script should be carefully chosen and the cast picked with care," Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said in Der Spiegel. "It is reprehensible to combine the issue of the Holocaust with Britney Spears in an attempt to secure financing for the film…" Yes, it is reprehensible. It's also probably not a good idea to combine time-travel and the Holocaust in a film. Or if you do, at least get some appropriate talent (Natalie Portman?) and for goodness' sake, don't let the Nazis win.

I love TV, but don't have cable. So the news recently that Hulu, the free television website hosted by NBC and Fox, could soon charge for content hit me pretty hard. Asked earlier this month whether Hulu would charge customers, NewsCorp’s chief digital officer Jonathan Miller responded, "the answer could be yes. I don't see why over time that shouldn't happen."

Hulu's final move on charging for content could decide the future of online media. As the viability of print sources becomes more and more unrealistic, and advertising revenue continues to fall, online television channels, magazines, and newspapers will be faced with a similar question: Charge for content and risk losing customers and advertisers, or keep content free and suffer inadequate advertising revenue to maintain traffic.

Either way, I just can't stop thinking about all the quality (and not-so-quality) television that I will miss out on if I don't subscribe (which might not be realistic on an intern's paycheck). Below are some of the shows that I will miss the most, covering what I believe to be the spectrum of essential Hulu genres.

  1. Battlestar Galactica. Get your nerd on watching the 70s version of the best modern space-related show on Hulu. The site also has the most recent 5 episodes of the new and improved series. Watchable? Yes for 2004 series, absolutely not for 1978 series. Also Enjoy: Star Gate SG-1, Lost in Space
  2. Arrested Development. Hulu is the only site I know of with all three seasons of one of the oddest sitcoms in history. Watch to prepare for the upcoming movie. Watchable: Only if you don't die laughing. Also enjoy: The Office, 30 Rock.
  3. Late Night Comedy. Catch full episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Watchable? Yes, but they aren't uploaded until the next day, which takes away from the late night charm. Best before work, at lunch, or around 4 pm, when quitting time is almost within reach. Also Enjoy: Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brian.
  4. WWE Monday Night Raw. No full episodes, but Hulu delivers with nearly 300 clips of action, all performed by hilariously bad, massively built actors. Watchable? No! Ridiculous question! Also Enjoy: Friday Night Smackdown. But, really?
  5. Miami Vice. Police were weird in the 80s. If things still ran this way in Miami, we'd have way bigger problems than potentially paying for online TV. Watchable? Undecided. Also Enjoy: The A Team, Airwolf.

At the end of the day, it's unrealistic to feel entitled to free online television. Somewhere along the line, though, internet users began to think that all content available online should be free. First came Napster, and music listeners all of a sudden felt entitled to free music, regardless of the economic impact it had on artists. Then newspapers and magazines transitioned online and universally struggled to find a working online business model. Finally, television channels and media organizations began providing their content online. And before we knew it, free TV felt like a universal right. Unfortunately, it's not. And if Hulu decides to charge its viewers, then newspapers, magazines, and online radio stations will likely follow close behind.

Robert Gibbs' daily press briefing is scheduled for 1:45 at the White House. Recently MIA South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is holding a televised press conference at 2:00 pm. What to do? I usually attend the White House briefing, but....Okay, I'll stick to routine. I'm off to the White House to Twitter the briefing. I suppose any major Sanford meltdown will be on YouTube.

Here's some disturbing info on the climate change bill moving through Congress. From a press release put out by the Sunlight Foundation:

Washington, DC - This Friday, Congress plans to vote on a bill that could fundamentally alter the American economy, dramatically affect the climate, and have huge implications for our national security. But, right now no one knows what's in the bill or how it came to be.

Last week, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (the "Cap and Trade Energy Bill"), or H.R. 2454, was 946 pages long. Over the weekend, it ballooned to 1,201 pages with no explanation for how or why. It is currently only available online at the House Rules Committee, and is reported as "text of the bill to be introduced." This legislative maneuvering reminds us of the failure of Congress to make bills properly available before consideration.

In a statement today, Sunlight Foundation Engagement Director Jake Brewer said, "The fastest speed-readers and the most intelligent minds can't make informed decisions with that much time. How can Congress?" He continued, "The problem here is the bill wasn't developed in the open in a committee, so no one--including those members of Congress not on the Energy Committee-knows how this latest version was created."

It's very likely that even many of those advocating for or against this legislation won't know what was inserted or what the final bill will be, since changes will be accepted right up until 9:30am on Thursday morning before an intended vote on Friday....

Without proper public and journalistic oversight, it may be too late for the cap and trade energy bill. It will likely become another case study in Sunlight's hall of shamefully rushed bills.

Earlier today, I noted that Reps. Henry Waxman and Ed Markey, the two lead authors of the bill, are honorable legislators and passionate about redressing the negative consequences of climate change. Still, folks on and off the Hill ought to know--and understand--what's in the bill before it reaches a vote.

How does the health care industry spin the media to protect its turf? Columbia Journalism Review's Trudy Lieberman interviews Wendell Potter, a former head of corporate communications for CIGNA, the country’s fourth-largest insurer (and the insurer of the Corn household). And Potter tells all. He shares an insider's perspective we rarely get:

Trudy Lieberman: Why did you leave CIGNA?

Wendell Potter: I didn’t want to be part of another health insurance industry effort to shape reform that would benefit the industry at the expense of the public.

TL: Was there anything in particular that turned you against the industry?

WP: A couple of years ago I was in Tennessee and saw an ad for a health expedition in the nearby town of Wise, Virginia. Out of curiosity I went and was overwhelmed by what I saw. Hundreds of people were standing in line to get free medical care in animal stalls. Some had camped out the night before in the rain. It was like being in a different country. It moved me to tears. Shortly afterward I was flying in a corporate jet and realized someone’s insurance premiums were paying for me to fly that way. I knew it wasn’t long before I had to leave the industry. It was like my road to Damascus.

It's not a big surprise that John Podesta, who heads the Center for American Progress and who ran President Barack Obama's transition, has endorsed the imperfect Waxman-Markey climate change legislation. Podesta, who has long worked on climate change, writes

Once again, Mick Jagger is right: “You can’t always get what you want/ But if you try, sometimes you just might find/ You get what you need.” The House of Representatives is poised for its first ever floor debate on legislation to reduce global warming pollution. This landmark bill is revolutionary in its intent and, while imperfect in its means, deserves the support of progressives.

Podesta is a smart fellow, but he has this Rolling Stones reference backward. If you believe the scientists—and I believe them—then we need a greater and faster reduction in greenhouse gas emissions than we would get from this bill. Unlike, say, the public health plan option, this is not a matter of obtaining merely what progressives want.

Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, addressing a group of lawmakers Wednesday:

[N]either the system nor the people will submit to bullying.

At first I thought it was incredibly brazen and ironic to say something like this, but then I realized something much more repugnant: Khamenei actually believes beating and murdering protesters is a just response to their (Western-orchestrated) dissent. This is the danger of madness ascending to power.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've already heard that Mark Sanford, the stimulus-money-refusing Republican governor of South Carolina, was missing for the past five days. Even his wife didn't know where he was. His office said--or rather, lied--that he was hiking on the Appalachian trail, but when the governor turned up this morning at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, he said he'd actually been in Beunos Aires. Here's a list of the top 10 theories on why the 2012 presidential hopeful went MIA:

10. He's "private." He wanted some alone time. (He says he was driving along the Argentinian coast.)

9. He "wanted to do something exotic."

8. He was trying to figure out how to lead the GOP out of the wilderness.

7. Isn't being the subject of over 2,000 articles in such a short time span a good way to increase your name recognition before running for President?

6. He was leaving to "spend some time away from his family."

5. He's "just a weird guy."

4. He wanted to refute Stephen Colbert's assertion that he is "incredibly boring... a manila envelope just glued to a beige wall... walking, talking Ambien."

3. He was worried that Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), another potential 2012 contender, was getting too much attention

2. He really was hiking in the woods...because it was Naked Hiking Day.

1. He's running for president...of Argentina.