ThinkFast: April 22, 2011

As gas prices continue to climb, President Obama announced yesterday that he has ordered the Justice Department to look into manipulation of oil prices through speculation. A new DoJ team will “root out any cases of fraud or manipulation in the oil markets that might affect gas prices,” Obama said at a town hall in Reno, NV.

“Oil giant BP spent $2 million on federal lobbying efforts during the first three months of this year,” a 25 percent increase over the same period just a year ago. Transocean, which owned the doomed Deepwater Horizon oil rig, spent $110,000 this year.

Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), the subject of an ongoing ethics investigation, announced his resignation yesterday, effective May 3. Leaders of the Senate Ethics Committee released a statement hinting that their probe had found evidence of wrongdoing, and Ensign acknowledged that his resignation came in part to avoid formal charges.

Hawkish Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has become the highest-ranking American politician to visit with rebels in Libya, calling them “my heroes.” Meanwhile, President Obama authorized armed drone operations in the country as rebels recaptured a key border crossing into Tunisia.


Democrats are suing the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to “force the disclosure of tens of millions of dollars in secret donations.” The move is seen as a direct response to heavy secret campaign spending during the last election season by private companies and nonprofits.

By a veto-proof vote of 16 to 8, the New Hampshire State Senate voted to become the 23rd right-to-work state in the nation. “The governor does not believe the state should be passing laws dictating the terms of contracts between private employers and workers,” said a spokesman for Gov. John Lynch (D), who has vowed to veto the measure.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) backed away from Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare-ending budget plan yesterday, instead embracing a plan more like that of former CBO director Alice Rivlin, which allows seniors to remain on Medicare or find a private plan. Gingrich said seniors should be able to choose “a more personal plan.”

Former GOP Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee accused conservative talk show host Glenn Beck yesterday of likening him to a “Nazi” after Beck accused Huckabee of being “progressive” for supporting First Lady Obama’s anti-obesity campaign. Huckabee said Beck was just “creat[ing] yet another ‘boogeyman’ hiding in the closet that he and only he can see.”

And finally: Meghan McCain, a columnist for the Daily Beast and the daughter of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), conducted a bizarre interview with real estate mogul Donald Trump yesterday, which included, among other embarrassing questions, a plea for Trump to hire McCain should he officially announce a presidential campaign.