July 2

• Molly Ball reports today that in the wake of the Hobby Lobby ruling, a group of religious leaders is asking the White House to include an exception in an upcoming executive order on federal contracts in order to allow groups to discriminate against gay people if they think their religion demands it:

Their call, in a letter sent to the White House Tuesday, attempts to capitalize on the Supreme Court case by arguing that it shows the administration must show more deference to the prerogatives of religion.

“We are asking that an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identity and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need,” the letter states.

While Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s decision in the case pretended it could be about contraception and nothing else, we’re going to be seeing a lot of claims in the coming days.

• Speaking of Alito, Ian Millhiser takes a long look at the justice’s record, and concludes that he’s the most partisan justice of all.

• The Arkansas Senate race has reached the point at which one candidate is questioning the other’s commitment to God, which is nice. Republican Tom Cotton said in an interview, “Barack Obama and Mark Pryor think that faith is something that only happens at 11 o’clock on Sunday mornings. That’s when we worship but faith is what we live every single day.”

• In case you heard about that poll purporting to say that Americans think Barack Obama is the worst president ever, Jonathan Bernstein manages to take its silliness and say something interesting about our recent history:

This might reflect more efficient Republican transmission of talking points from elites to the rank-and-file. But it might just as well reflect the happenstances of history. Democrats have several reasonable candidates to choose from. Clinton and Kennedy were very popular; Lyndon Johnson and Harry Truman had impressive accomplishments, along with the wars that made each unpopular while in office.

Republicans? They’re not going to choose Richard Nixon or, most likely, Gerald Ford. Both Bushes were unpopular while in office, and don’t really have the historical stature to overcome that. Dwight Eisenhower was an excellent president, but his views were very removed from contemporary mainstream conservatism, and at any rate the 1950s are ancient history to most respondents. Of course they’ll pick Reagan. And it’s no surprise that they choose the current occupant of the Oval Office over long-gone Carter, either, let alone the popular Clinton.

All of that should work out the way it has without any Fox News prompting.

So it looks like Republicans are unified after all!

• As a CIA analyst, Aki Peritz had to watch dozens of beheading videos made by terrorists; in The Post he shares what he learned.

• Wonkblog has an interview with Rep. Earl Blumenauer in which the Oregon congressman discusses his plan to raise the gas tax and then replace it with a “vehicle miles traveled” tax.

• David Freedlander profiles the potential dark-horse presidential candidacy of Indiana governor Mike Pence.

• Chris McDaniel is not going gently into that good night of electoral defeat. In a fundraising letter seeking to raise money for a challenge to Sen. Thad Cochran’s win in the Mississippi runoff, McDaniel says Cochran “stole last week’s runoff election.”

• As you surely know, the Texas governor recently stopped wearing cowboy boots, citing back pain. And as far as Jerry Patterson, the state’s land commissioner, is concerned, Perry might as well start painting his nails and singing Streisand tunes. “Tell Rick that boots can be purchased with normal heels,” Patterson wrote to a Texas columnist. “I lament the fact that our governor could now pass for a West Coast metrosexual and has embarrassed us all with his sartorial change of direction.”

• Jay Nixon, the Democratic governor of Missouri, vetoed a bill that would have required women seeking an abortion to wait 72 hours before getting one. Republican legislators there are now going to get right on that bill requiring 72 hours before a Viagra prescription can get filled.

• Today is the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act. In case your knowledge of the law is a little shaky, the Associated Press offers five things to understand about it.