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ThinkFast: July 21, 2008

“Bush administration officials agreed that greenhouse gases could endanger the public and should be regulated under clean-air laws, but later reversed course amid opposition from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office and the oil industry, a congressional report said. The “report is inaccurate to the point of being laughable,” said White House spokesman Tony Fratto.

“Britain should no longer rely on assurances by the United States that it does not torture terrorism suspects,” concluded a report released yesterday by an influential committee in Britain’s parliament. Citing “clear differences in definition” between the two countries about whether waterboarding is torture, the Foreign Affairs Committee recommended that U.S. assurances no longer be taken at face value.

The first military commissions trial at Guantanamo Bay begins today, with the trial of Salim Ahmed Hamdan. “Unlike a civilian trial, even if the defendant is acquitted of conspiracy and material support of terrorism charges, he probably will not be released.”

Associate counsel Leslie Fahrenkopf is the second Bush administration official, after speechwriter Bill McGurn, this year “to switch bosses from Bush to Rupert Murdoch.” “After stepping down from the White House on July 11, Fahrenkopf starts in September as vice president and associate general counsel of News Corp.”

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On the trail today: Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) meets with military commanders and officials in Iraq. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is in Maine, appearing at private receptions at the Nonantum Resort, the Walker’s Point summer home of former President George Bush, and the Maine Military Museum.

A new study, by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law finds that “poorly designed ballots continue to plague U.S. elections, even after Congress set aside $3 billion to overhaul voting systems.” Since 2000, various problems have “led thousands of voters to skip over key races or make mistakes that invalidated their votes.”

On Friday, the Senate plans to begin debating the “Coburn Omnibus,” a set of bills “that have broad bipartisan support but have been held up” by Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) objections. Some of these measures include funding for stroke prevention legislation, lateral sclerosis legislation, the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Act, the Emmitt Till Unsolved Crimes Act, and the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment Act.

“United States and NATO missile and mortar strikes continued to exact a heavy toll on Afghans over the weekend, killing at least 13 in two attacks that Afghan officials said were mistakes.”

“The principal source of funding for highway projects will soon hit a big financial pothole” due to rising fuel prices. With motorists cutting back on driving and buying more fuel-efficient cars, “the government is taking in less money from the federal gasoline tax,” which means that “the federal highway trust fund could be in the red by $3.2 billion or more next year.”

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And finally: Jenna Bush’s ex moves into the White House. Despite being a college dropout, Blake Gottesman, 28, returns to the White House today as deputy chief of staff. Gottesman had worked as Bush’s personal aide for four years, and had dated Jenna Bush in high school.

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