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ThinkFast: September 24, 2008

The FBI has opened investigations into Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, and AIG, looking into whether “fraud helped cause some of the troubles” at these financial institutions. According to the FBI, these probes “are part of an effort to pursue allegations of higher-level fraud more sweeping than the retail-level infractions that have been at the center of most cases brought so far.”

91: Percentage of likely voters who say that the economy is “in bad shape,” according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. Fifty-eight percent of those polled described the economy as “poor” while 33 percent deemed it “not so good.” At the same time, “51 percent of registered voters say the economy’s in a serious long-term decline.”

The Senate approved billions of dollars in tax credits for renewable energy yesterday, in a package that will spare “more than 20 million taxpayers who would get hit by” the alternative minimum tax. The package also extended tax deductions for higher education costs and the child tax credit. The House could take up consideration of the bill today.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) told the White House yesterday that it “must serve up support from Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) if it hopes to ensure bipartisan backing for a massive economic bailout package by week’s end.” A top House Republican told ABC News, “If McCain doesn’t come out for this, it’s over.”

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On the trail today: Barack Obama will discuss the economy in a campaign rally in Dunedin, FL. Joe Biden will deliver a foreign policy speech in Cincinnati. John McCain and Sarah Palin are in New York, meeting with U2 singer Bono, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, and Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.

Caving to political pressure, Democrats in Congress “decided to allow a quarter-century ban on drilling for oil off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to expire next week.” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) called it “a big victory for Americans.”

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is the target of a YouTube video made by Senate Democrats, calling him out for objecting to a package of popular legislative items known as the “Coburn Omnibus.” In the video, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) brings up bill after popular-sounding bill as Coburn objects. Watch it here.

An alliance of “seven Western states and four Canadian provinces unveiled a blueprint” yesterday for “the most far-reaching effort in North America to curb emissions linked to climate change.” The Western Climate Initiative “is intended to achieve a 15 percent cut in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020.”

Yesterday, Congress approved legislation that would “require private insurers to provide the same level of benefits for mental illness as they do for physical maladies, a change lauded by advocates as a great shift in the nation’s understanding of mental health.” The bill has strong bipartisan backing but the measure’s cost is the only “remaining obstacle.”

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And finally: On Tuesday, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) was on the Senate floor and “went on at length about the artwork on the cover of the trippy Pink Floyd album ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ and then quoted from popular stoner movie ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’” Grassley stood before a “blown-up poster of the Pink Floyd album cover,” comparing the prism to compromise on tax legislation. Grassley then talked about energy conservation, stating, “I’d like to refer to Ashton Kutcher here, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, saying ‘dude, where’s my car?’

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