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ThinkFast: August 25, 2009

President Obama nominated Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to a second four-year term today. The position requires Senate approval, and Bernanke will likely face “tough questioning” from lawmakers who “say he was slow to recognize the severity of the mortgage crisis and didn’t do enough to protect American consumers while leading bailouts of financial firms.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce “is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to hold a rare public hearing on the scientific evidence for man-made climate change” that Chamber officials say would be “the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century.” “It would be evolution versus creationism,” said William Kovacs, the chamber’s senior vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs.

A partially declassified CIA report released yesterday said the agency’s interrogation program used “unauthorized, improvised, inhumane and undocumented” techniques. One interrogator scrubbed a detainee with “a stiff brush…so roughly that his legs were raw with abrasions,” while another “squeezed a detainee’s neck at his carotid artery until he began to pass out.”

In a statement released last night, Dick Cheney said that the newly-released CIA documents “clearly demonstrate that the individuals subjected to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques provided the bulk of intelligence we gained about al Qaeda.” Spencer Ackerman notes that Cheney isn’t asserting that torture was responsible for the bulk of intelligence, however.

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Though they applauded the naming of a special prosecutor to allegations of CIA torture, the chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees are still calling for an independent truth commission to investigate the CIA-led interrogations. The release of a 2004 CIA inspector general report “underscores why we need to move forward with a Commission of Inquiry,” said Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) in a statement.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka told the liberal blog Firedoglake that labor will wait until after health reform legislation is passed to push for card check legislation.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s healthcare task force, told the Hill yesterday that Democrats may have to do health care reform without Republicans. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is considering the same tactic in the Senate.

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani is “clearing a path for a possible race” for the state’s governor in 2010, “believing public anger at an ineffectual Albany and unease over the economy could create ideal conditions for a Republican to reclaim the governor’s mansion.” Giuliani said he “will decide on a candidacy within 30 to 60 days.”

And finally: Retired professional wrestler Hulk Hogan has joined the tea party movement. As a spokesman for the GuaranteedLowerPropertyTax.com, Hogan showed up to an Aug. 22 tea party in Orlando, FL. Watch a video of his appearance here.

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