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ThinkFast: May 13, 2008

A House Judiciary Committee deadline passed yesterday “with former White House adviser Karl Rove standing by his refusal to testify about allegations that he pushed the Justice Department to prosecute former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.” Rove instead sent a letter offering to respond to questions in writing, rather than testify publicly under oath.

With the housing crisis and volatile markets slowing the economy, the Treasury Department reported yesterday that “corporate income-tax revenue over the first seven months of the fiscal year” was 14.7 percent “lower than during the same period a year earlier” while “the federal deficit ballooned to $152 billion, 88 [percent] higher than the same period last fiscal year.”

$0.109: the cost that the average gallon of gasoline increased in one week, up to $3.722, setting a fourth consecutive record.

The House and Senate are expected to defy the White House today and pass legislation that would require the administration to halt oil shipments to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. “The strong bipartisan support represents a major shift for Republicans, who until now have generally followed the lead of President Bush.”

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In order to “counter the Democratic push for change,” House Republicans have adopted a new message: “The Change You Deserve.” But “the change you deserve” is also the advertising slogan of Effexor XR, a drug used to treat depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder in adults.

The current economic downturn “is imposing a particularly punishing toll on Hispanics.” According to the Labor Department, “the unemployment rate among Hispanics spiked 1.4 percentage points, to 6.9 percent,” since April 2007. “By comparison, the overall jobless rate rose half a percentage point, to 5 percent.”

A new survey by the National Retail Federation finds that Americans plan to use their stimulus checks “to pay for increasingly expensive gas and groceries, rather than spend it on electronics or clothes. … The latest survey found 17.2 million people plan to use some of their tax rebate to pay for gasoline, up from 12.1 million in the trade group’s February survey.”

Iraqi hospital officials said today that “a fragile cease-fire failed to stop fighting in Baghdad’s Sadr City where the latest clashes between Shiite extremists and U.S.-backed Iraqi forces killed 11 men and wounded 19.” U.S. forces responded to attacks by “militants” just “hours after Iraq’s main Shiite political bloc and supporters of firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr signed a cease-fire.”

According to Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), the White House appears willing to compromise on the issue of retroactive immunity for companies that joined administration’s surveillance program. Bond “said the White House seems willing to let the FISA court help determine whether phone companies should be shielded from litigation.”

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And finally: According to a new survey by The Hill, more than 20 U.S. senators would be interested in becoming vice president, if the spot were offered to them. While some senators answered the question seriously, others laughed it off. “Of course,” Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) said. “Big house, big car, not much to do. Why not?” “I’d bring a lot of fun to the job,” Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) added. “We would rock the Naval Observatory.”

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