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Election Sneaking Up on GOP?

Sens. Tom Coburn, left, and Ben Nelson saw their fight over a Nelson earmark request come to the surface when expletive-laced e-mails by a Coburn staffer appeared in a newspaper.
Sens. Tom Coburn, left, and Ben Nelson saw their fight over a Nelson earmark request come to the surface when expletive-laced e-mails by a Coburn staffer appeared in a newspaper. (By Jennifer Pitts -- Oklahoma City Journal Record Via Associated Press)

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Unfortunately for Hart, his e-mails accidentally were sent to an aide in the office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who all but loathes Coburn for, at every turn, trying to block Alaska pet projects, including the infamous "bridge to nowhere." And they ended up in the Hill, the Capitol Hill newspaper.

Hart, perhaps wearing a muzzle by this point, wasn't able to comment yesterday. Coburn's chief of staff, Michael Schwartz, defended his boss's tireless crusade against pork but also said the senator regretted his staff's behavior.

"One of Dr. Coburn's core missions is to unmask and eliminate examples of wasteful spending," Schwartz said. "However, he never intends to ridicule or embarrass individual senators. Our staff profoundly regrets their use of inappropriate language in this e-mail which suggests this was a personal battle, when that was never our intent."

Nelson spokesman David DiMartino said: "Every time Senator Coburn apologizes, his staff takes it further. First, they launched a political attack against Nelson; now they scheme to subvert their own boss. Clearly, Senator Coburn has no control over his staff's activities."

Any Comment, Rep. Filner?

Still total radio silence from Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.).

The chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs flew off to Iraq this week without commenting on the misdemeanor assault and battery charges filed against him after a dispute over his luggage with a United Airlines employee Sunday night at Washington Dulles International Airport. His office yesterday gave us no clearer understanding of why Filner said the charges against him were "ridiculous" and that the news reports of the incident were "factually incorrect."

"I don't have a full statement yet," Filner spokeswoman Amy Pond said. She said Filner will issue a statement when he returns from Iraq.

Filner, who turns 65 on Sept. 4, is scheduled to appear in Loudoun General District Court on Oct. 2.

They Acted as if I Didn't Exist

Don't expect to see Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) making too many more appearances on ABC News. An apparently irate Kucinich sent a letter to supporters yesterday accusing the network of ignoring him in the presidential debate on Sunday's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos."

Among Kucinich's charges: He was "deliberately cropped out" of photos; after he took a "commanding lead" in ABC's online survey, the survey was mysteriously "dropped from prominence on the web site"; and "as every viewer of the nationally televised Sunday presidential forum is aware," Kucinich was not asked a question until 28 minutes into the program.

Asked for comment on the network's alleged conspiracy to ignore Kucinich, ABC News spokeswoman Andrea Jones had this to say:

About those allegedly cropped photos, she said: "There are 20 photos live on the ABC News Web site, Mr. Kucinich is in a number of them, and there is even one of him and his wife. . . . Clearly, nothing was cropped."

And what about not calling on Kucinich until 28 agonizing minutes into the debate? "He may not have been addressed in the first 28 minutes, but he was the only candidate questioned in his own segment on 'This Week With George Stephanopoulos,' two weeks in a row. That appearance is posted online, as well," Jones said.

Kucinich also said that ABC News did not respond to his concerns.

Jones pointed out that Kucinich had back-to-back appearances on Stephanopoulos's show, so "clearly their claim is not substantiated by the facts nor by the extensive coverage of his candidacy on the ABCNews.com Web site."

ABC said it planned to send all of these responses and more to Kucinich, thus officially ending its campaign to pretend he doesn't exist.

Akers writes The Sleuth, and Kane writes Capitol Briefing, both blogs on washingtonpost.com.


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