Happy Hour Roundup

* The Justice Department has obtained two months of phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors, as part of a major leak investigation. I concur with Atrios: It would be a good thing if conservatives and journalists made this into a scandal. Hopefully it will lead to a bipartisan Congressional push to limit spying and eavesdropping?

* The ACLU rips the Justice Department over the phone records.

* And it looks like we may be heading for more investigations, per the House GOP leadership:

DOJ monitoring @AP phone lines is more disturbing news from the Administration. The House will take appropriate action.

* Jackson Diehl gets to the heart of what’s wrong with GOP claims of a Benghazi “scandal”:

An investigation by House Republicans and reports in the Weekly Standard and ABC News purport to show how the talking points were edited over several drafts to remove references to the extremist militia Ansar al-Sharia and previous attacks in Benghazi. But this was not a cover-up. Instead, the changes were mainly the product of interagency tensions: State thought the CIA, which was mainly responsible for the Benghazi mission, was preempting an FBI investigation and trying to shift blame for the fiasco.

Meanwhile, by the ABC account, every draft of the talking points says that the attacks “were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault . . .” That’s what Rice said. It might have been wrong, but it was the intelligence assessment at the time. So what, exactly, is the scandal?

That’s what I’ve been saying, too.

* Mike Tomasky goes there: Republicans will try to impeach. And that was before the AP story broke, too.

* Jill Lawrence provides a helpful reminder:

Shortly after the September 1998 release of the Starr report (with its graphic sexual references and 11 proposed articles of impeachment), and before they went on to impeach and try Clinton, Republicans contradicted historical patterns by losing House seats. The public, it turned out, was tired of scandal, investigations, and conflict. Obama can only hope the same dynamic plays out in 2014.

* To which Ed Kilgore dryly responds:

I don’t get the sense…that too many Republicans are thinking there’s a downside to going scandal-crazy.  If anything, going into a “base-dominated” midterm election with a party that refuses to get anything done in Congress requiring compromise and that isn’t real flush with policy ideas, Republicans are going to be sorely tempted not to talk about anything but scandals (and perhaps Obamacare, which they are already treating as a “scandal” in itself) for the next year-and-a-half.

* Alec MacGillis: The real IRS scandal lies in which groups were actually targeted.

* As Joan Walsh notes, it really is dispiriting to see journalistic figures eagerly slipping right back into 1990s pseudo-scandal mode will absolutely zero self awareness.

* And Michele Bachmann must be beside herself with grief at the news that Minnesota has taken a final step towards becoming the 12th state to legalize marriage for gays.

What else?

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.
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Jonathan Bernstein | May 13, 2013