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11:35 AM ET, March 20, 2009


 Top Items: 
Michael James / Political Punch:
President Obama Jokes About Being a Bad Bowler: 'It's Like the Special Olympics'*  —  The first appearance by a sitting president on “The Tonight Show” may well end up being the last.  —  President Obama, in his taping with Jay Leno Thursday afternoon, attempted to yuk it up with the funnyman, and ended up insulting the disabled.
Michelle Malkin:
Obama's “Special Olympics” joke: The teleprompter made him do it!  —  Jake Tapper reports that Barack Obama pulled a Joe Biden (or a Barack Obama, for that matter) and ended up mocking the Special Olympics in a lame attempt to make fun of his weak bowling skills.
New York Times:
President Barack Obama on ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’  —  The following is a transcript of President Obama's interview on NBC's “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” as provided by the White House.  —  JAY LENO The 44th President of the United States, please welcome President Barack Obama.
Los Angeles Times:
Obama's ‘Tonight Show’ appearance could become a ‘special’ event  —  The president's awkward stab at humor could dog him in the short run.  —  Even in the annals of media, President Obama's appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” on Thursday night isn't likely to be remembered as a watershed moment.
Todd Venezia / New York Post:
BARACK'S FUNNY BUSINESS  —  JESTS ON LENO AS GOPERS RIP ECON ‘NEGLECT’  —  President Obama last night got comfy on “The Tonight Show” couch, cracking jokes about his bowling, a promised pooch and his job even as critics slammed his appearance, and a foray into basketball predictions, as distractions from a critically ill economy.
The Huffington Post:
Obama On Tonight Show With Jay Leno: FULL TRANSCRIPT, VIDEO
Discussion: Dealbreaker and Washington Post
Andrew Malcolm / Top of the Ticket:
Obama White House bars press from press award ceremony  —  We are not making this up:  —  Barack Obama was elected commander-in-chief promising to run the most transparent presidential administration in American history.  —  This achievement and the overall promise of his historic administration caused …
Alan Cowell / New York Times:
In an Unusual Video, Obama Offers Iran a ‘New Day’  —  Invoking art, history and “the common humanity that binds us,” President Obama offered a “new day” in America's relationship with Iran, using an unusual videotaped message to appeal directly to Iranians for a shift away from decades of confrontation.
Ezra Klein / American Prospect:
Glenn Greenwald / Salon:
Obama's new message to Iran
Discussion: Israel Matzav
New York Times:
Many in Government Knew Weeks Ago About A.I.G. Bonuses  —  WASHINGTON — The question was direct and prescient.  Representative Joseph Crowley, Democrat of New York, asked the Treasury secretary in an open hearing what could be done to stop American International Group from paying $165 million …
Geithner: Treasury pushed for bonus loophole  —  (CNN) — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told CNN Thursday his department asked Sen. Chris Dodd to include a loophole in the stimulus bill that allowed bailed-out insurance giant American International Group to keep its bonuses.
Ed Morrissey / Hot Air:
Obama violating law on TARP oversight?
Discussion: The Campaign Spot
Henry Blodget / Clusterstock:
90% Tax?  Now We Really ARE Screwed  —  The frantic passage of the Populist Rage Tax was a new low in the US government's response to this crisis.  It shows just how likely we are to doom ourselves to a decade or more of misery—by choking our markets, closing our borders …
Greta Van Susteren / GretaWire:
FYI  —  I am getting lots of inquires about my husband John Coale — no, he is not a paid adviser to Governor Palin and never has been.  And no, he does not want a job with her or with the other women he has helped.  —  Yes, he has given Governor Palin advice and helped her.
New York Times:
Connecticut Senator Draws Voters' Ire for His Bonus Role  —  Clarence Randolph, a 50-year-old dump truck driver from New Haven, has been out of work for two months.  —  He is not happy that financial firms bailed out by the government are paying bonuses to their executives.
Discussion: Power Line, and MSNBC
Andrew Miga / Associated Press:
Dodd's political stock tumbles in Connecticut
Discussion: First Draft
Charles Krauthammer / Washington Post:
Bonfire of the Trivialities  —  A $14 trillion economy hangs by a thread composed of (a) a comically cynical, pitchfork-wielding Congress, (b) a hopelessly understaffed, stumbling Obama administration, and (c) $165 million.  —  That's $165 million in bonus money handed out to AIG debt manipulators …
New York Times:
Off With the Bankers  —  A.I.G. can hardly claim that its generous bonuses attract the best and the brightest.  So instead, it defends the payments by arguing they're needed to retain employees who are crucial for winding down transactions that are “difficult to understand and manage.”
Obama's First Round NCAA Bracket A Bust  —  CHICAGO (CBS) ― After the first day of the NCAA basketball tournament, President Obama's bracket appears to be a bust.  —  The president, a self-described basketball junkie, managed to only pick 11 of 16 games correctly—or 69 percent.
David Brooks / New York Times:
Perverse Cosmic Myopia  —  You'd think if some tiger were lunging at your neck, your attention would be riveted on the tiger.  But that's apparently not how it works in the age of global A.D.D. As a tiger sinks its teeth into the world's neck, we focus on the dust bunnies under the bed …
Discussion: MSNBC and Commentary
Financial Times:
Do not let the ‘cure’ destroy capitalism  —  Capitalism has been wounded by the global recession, which unfortunately will get worse before it gets better.  As governments continue to determine how many restrictions to place on markets, especially financial markets, the destruction of wealth …
Nick Squires / Telegraph:
Vatican insiders declare the Pope a ‘disaster’  —  Pope Benedict's repeated gaffes and the Vatican's inability to manage his message in the internet era are threatening to undermine his papacy, Vatican insiders have said.  —  Pope Benedict  —  The Holy See is struggling to contain international anger …
Discussion: Democracy in America
Marian Burros / New York Times:
Obamas to Plant White House Vegetable Garden  —  WASHINGTON — On Friday, Michelle Obama will begin digging up a patch of White House lawn to plant a vegetable garden, the first since Eleanor Roosevelt's victory garden in World War II.  There will be no beets (the president doesn't like them) but arugula will make the cut.
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 More Items: 
Wall Street Journal:
FDR's Conservative 100 Days
Discussion: Washington Monthly
Mary Ann Akers / The Sleuth:
Joe the Plumber Wants to Make Love to Washington
Alice Lipowicz /
Officials struggle with data for
Discussion: MyDD
Wall Street Journal:
Neither a Hedgehog Nor a Fox
Paul Krugman:
AIG  —  Preliminary thoughts on the tax bill:
Andrew E. Kramer / New York Times:
Veterans of U.S. Diplomacy Try to Revive Nuclear Arms Talks With Russia
Discussion: Pajamas Media
Eli Lake / Washington Times:
Brownback to block Iraq nominee
 Earlier Items: 
Myglesias / Matthew Yglesias:
Doug Holtz-Eakin Calls for Bank Nationalization
Washington Post:
Latest CIA Scandal Puts Focus on How Agency Polices Self
Kenneth P. Vogel / The Politico:
Romney rakes it in, doesn't dole it out
Patrick O'Connor / The Politico:
Boehner, Cantor ties taxed by AIG vote
Lynn Sweet:
Michelle Obama in candid conversation with kids, talks about being …
Discussion: Betsy's Page
Dina Cappiello / Associated Press:
Report: Energy contributing to birds' decline
Lucinda Franks / Blogs and Stories:
Madoff Employee Breaks Silence
Discussion: Clusterstock