ThinkFast: August 5, 2008

Though conservatives have tried to force the House to adjourn “eighteen times over the past 90 days,” now that the House is actually adjourned, Republicans are using political stunts to demand that “the chamber be called back into session” for a vote on offshore oil drilling. The White House, however, rebuffed their efforts yesterday, saying they “don’t have plans to call Congress into session.”

According to documents obtained by the Washington Post, “the Bush administration informed all foreign intelligence and law enforcement teams visiting their citizens held at Guantanamo Bay that video and sound from their interrogation sessions would be recorded.” Thus, the U.S. may possess “hundreds or thousands of hours of secret taped conversations” between detainees and foreign representatives.

Reacting to the Justice Department report on his administration’s illegal hirings, President Bush said: “I had a lot of hires in this administration, a lot of parts of it. … I’ve read the critique. I’ve listened very seriously to what they said. And other than that, I have no comment.”

White House aides considered having President Bush give a “Reaganesque ‘tear down this wall’ speech on human rights in China,” but abandoned the idea because it would have been “potentially insulting to the president’s hosts.” China authorities have ordered pastors, lawyers, and political activists whom Bush considered meeting in Beijing “to leave the city during the president’s visit.”


On the trail today: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will visit a nuclear power plant in Michigan to promote the need for more nuclear energy. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will hold town halls in Youngstown and Berea, OH to discuss his New Energy for America plan.

A Department of Veterans Affairs investigation has found that there were “rampant violations” in an Arkansas veterans hospital’s human experiments program, “including missing consent forms, secret HIV testing and failure to report more than 100 deaths of subjects participating in studies.” The report from the VA’s Inspector General says the program “involved thousands of veterans.”

Anti-American Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr “intends to disarm his once-dominant Mahdi Army militia and remake it as a social-services organization.” The move “would represent a significant turnabout for a group that, as recently as earlier this year, was seen as one of the most destabilizing anti-American forces in Iraq.”

“A secret deal between Britain and the…al-Mahdi militia prevented British Forces from coming to the aid of their US and Iraqi allies for nearly a week during the battle for Basra this year,” the Times of London reports today. “One British official said that the deal was intended as an IRA-style reconciliation,” but it “did not work.”

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank will no longer appear on MSNBC’s Countdown. Keith Olbermann writes that Milbank has “accepted another television offer,” saving the Countdown crew from making “an increasingly difficult decision” to let Milbank go after he refused to acknowledge distorting an Obama quote in his column last week.


And finally: Who will be the Comedian in Chief? John McCain and Barack Obama “have shot ‘funny’ campaign ads” for this Thursday’s season finale of NBC’s show “Last Comic Standing.” In Obama’s ad, the senator jokes, “And if you don’t think I’m funny, you’ve obviously never seen me bowl.” When a picture of him bowling appears on-screen, Obama says, “I’m not going to deliver this line any better than that,” and walks off. In McCain’s ad, when an off-camera voice tells him he is “funny-looking,” a “faux-angry McCain” angrily barks, “Who said that?”

What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.