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10:35 AM ET, December 20, 2011


 Top Items: 
Gary Langer / ABCNEWS:
Gingrich, Romney Go to a Tie; More See Obama as Competitive  —  Newt Gingrich has relinquished sole front-runner status almost as quickly as he gained it, landing at a dead heat with Mitt Romney in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.  And as the GOP hopefuls battle it out, ratings of Barack Obama's prospects have warmed.
Washington Post:
Obama's job-approval rating is highest since summer, Post-ABC poll finds  —  View Photo Gallery —  President Obama's reelection campaign and the DNC together raised $70 million in the third quarter of 2011.  Outside of fundraising, the president is ramping up support for his reelection …
Newt Gingrich / Washington Post:
2. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Obama is handling [ITEM]?  Do you approve/disapprove strongly or somewhat?  —  NET Strongly Somewhat NET Somewhat Strongly opinion a.  The economy 41 17 24 56 13 43 2 b.
Discussion: Mediaite, Ballot Box and Hot Air
Lydia Saad / Gallup:
Gingrich's Lead Over Romney Among Republicans Collapses
Frank Newport / Gallup:
Congress Ends 2011 With Record-Low 11% Approval
Discussion: The Politico and Weasel Zippers
A.Killough / CNN:
Romney blasts Gingrich over judiciary ideas
Lie of the Year 2011: ‘Republicans voted to end Medicare’  —  Republicans muscled a budget through the House of Representatives in April that they said would take an important step toward reducing the federal deficit.  Introduced by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the plan kept Medicare intact …
Steve Benen / Washington Monthly:
PolitiFact ought to be ashamed of itself  —  The fact-checking website PolitiFact has announced its “Lie of the Year” for 2011.  It made a poor, credibility-killing choice. … This is simply indefensible.  Claims that are factually true shouldn't be eligible for a Lie of the Year designation.
Discussion: US Politics
Paul Krugman:
Politifact, R.I.P.  —  This is really awful.  Politifact, which is supposed to police false claims in politics, has announced its Lie of the Year — and it's a statement that happens to be true, the claim that Republicans have voted to end Medicare.  —  Steve Benen in the link above explains it, but let me just repeat the basics.
The Politico:
House GOP postpones payroll vote  —  House Republicans postponed a planned Monday night vote on the Senate-passed payroll tax cut bill, bowing to pressure from rank-and-file lawmakers to fight the battle in a fresh media cycle, avoid a dark-of-night vote and, perhaps most important …
Jake Tapper / ABCNEWS:
Two-Month Payroll Tax Holiday Passed By Senate, Pushed By President, Cannot Be Implemented Properly, Experts Say
Josh Lederman / Ballot Box:
DCCC unleashing Carville on House GOP
Discussion: CNN and Weasel Zippers
Marin Cogan / The Politico:
House GOP freshmen stand their ground
Discussion: Speaker, CNN and The Hill
Allahpundit / Hot Air:
Video: The weeping North Koreans; Update: New leader may be more psycho than dad, says U.S. intel  —  Don't just sample the clip for 10 seconds.  Watch to the end and drink in the full spectacle of grown men, prostrate, screaming in grief at the death of their subjugator.
New York Times:
In Kim's Death, an Extensive Intelligence Failure  —  Televisions at an electronics store in Seoul, South Korea, featured reports on Monday about the death of Kim Jong-il, the North Korean Leader.  North Korea said Mr. Kim, 69, died on Saturday.  More Photos »
Wall Street Journal:
Portrait of New Leader Takes Shape
Brad Plumer / Washington Post:
Kim Jong Il's economic legacy, in one chart
Discussion: The Daily Dish and Hit & Run
Washington Examiner:
GOP unhappiness with field fuels buzz for Jeb Bush  —  There's no doubt some Republicans remain unhappy with the GOP presidential field.  They wish other candidates — Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush — had entered a long time ago.  But the Iowa caucuses are in two weeks.
Charles P. Pierce / Esquire:
Draft Jeb!
Max Abelson / Bloomberg:
Bankers Seek to Debunk ‘Imbecile’ Attack on Top 1%  —  Jamie Dimon, the highest-paid chief executive officer among the heads of the six biggest U.S. banks, turned a question at an investors' conference in New York this month into an occasion to defend wealth.
Discussion: Felix Salmon
Terence P. Jeffrey / CNSNews:
U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Pays Homage to Obama—But Not Jesus  —  ( - The 63-foot Sierra White Fir lighted at the U.S. Capitol Grounds on Dec. 6 as the official 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree includes a prominently displayed ornament paying homage to President Barack Obama …
Jake Tapper / ABCNEWS:
POTUS Has Coffee with Progressive Media Stars  —  An all-star list of progressive and liberal media folks came to the White House today to chat with President Obama over coffee in the Roosevelt Room.  —  The group chatted with the president about economic messaging, his agenda for 2012 …
Karen DeYoung / Washington Post:
Secrecy defines Obama's drone war  —  Since September, at least 60 people have died in 14 reported CIA drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal regions.  The Obama administration has named only one of the dead, hailing the elimination of Janbaz Zadran, a top official in the Haqqani insurgent network, as a counterterrorism victory.
Discussion: Prairie Weather
Jonathan Martinand Alexander Burns / The Politico:
Will Ron Paul kill the caucuses?  —  SIOUX CITY, IOWA -The alarms are sounding in Iowa.  —  Conservatives and Republican elites in the state are divided over who to support for the GOP nomination, but they almost uniformly express concern over the prospect that Ron Paul and his army …
Nando Di Fino / Mediaite:
Sarah Palin Tells Fox Business Network That 'It's Not Too Late' To Jump Into The GOP Race  —  In a pre-taped interview set to air tonight on Fox Business Network's “Follow The Money,” Eric Bolling mentioned to Sarah Palin that people constantly tell him they wish she was running for President.
Robin Bravender / The Politico:
Industry: Light bulb war a dim idea  —  Big Business usually loves it when the GOP goes to war over federal rules.  —  But not when it comes to light bulbs.  —  This year, House Republicans made it a top priority to roll back regulations they say are too costly for business.
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 More Items: 
David Brooks / New York Times:
The Sidney Awards, Part I
Discussion: Prairie Weather
Brendan Sasso / The Hill:
Senators urge regulator to take a hard look at Google's search tactics
Discussion: RedState
International Rockstar Legend Jon Bon Jovi dead again at 49
James Pethokoukis / The Enterprise Blog:
Romney's tax troubles ... with conservatives
Discussion: Political Mojo and New York Times
Bill Gross / Financial Times:
The ugly side of ultra-cheap money
Discussion: Paul Krugman and Business Insider
Patrick Marley / JSOnline:
Gableman voted with law firm after receiving free legal services
Discussion: First Draft
Nick Wingfield / New York Times:
Apple Wins Partial Victory on Smartphone Patent Claim
Benjamin Wittes / Lawfare:
NDAA FAQ: A Guide for the Perplexed
 Earlier Items: 
Dan Eggen / Washington Post:
Gingrich's sale of mailing list unlawful, watchdog group charges
20 Pounds Of Headlines:
Brunner Says He'll Debate Opponents, But Won't Join Early January Debate
Discussion: Washington Post and The Politico
Jay Rubenstein / The Huffington Post:
Crusade vs. Jihad: Which Is Worse?
Discussion: Lawyers, Guns & Money
Steven Hayward / Power Line:
Hayek Vindicated Again
Nando Di Fino / Mediaite:
BFFs? Fox News Plays Wrong Clip, Making Mitt Romney's ‘Best Friend’ Barack Obama
Discussion: THEROOT.COM and NewsHounds blog
John C. Goodman / Wall Street Journal:
Why Mandated Health Insurance Is Unfair