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10:00 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.
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: Ballot Box and Hot Air
Lydia Saad / Gallup:
Gingrich's Lead Over Romney Among Republicans Collapses
Washington Post:
Obama's job-approval rating is highest since summer, Post-ABC poll finds
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
Discussion: The Politico
Washington Post:
Poll: Gingrich, Romney in dead heat nationally
Jake Tapper / ABCNEWS:
Two-Month Payroll Tax Holiday Passed By Senate, Pushed By President, Cannot Be Implemented Properly, Experts Say  —  Officials from the policy-neutral National Payroll Reporting Consortium, Inc. have expressed concern to members of Congress that the two-month payroll tax holiday passed …
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 …
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
Jonathan Easley / The Hill:
Tea Party lawmaker: Payroll-tax-cut fight our ‘Braveheart moment’
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!  —  He was the golden child, if there can be said to be a golden child in a brood that included one son who was an S&L swindler who later went on to a career of being surprised when Thai hookers showed up unannounced at his hotel room door, another who was the worst president …
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
Brad Plumer / Washington Post:
Kim Jong Il's economic legacy, in one chart
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 …
Discussion: JSOnline
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: Paul Krugman
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 …
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 …
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.
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.
Dan Eggen / Washington Post:
Gingrich's sale of mailing list unlawful, watchdog group charges  —  A watchdog group filed an elections complaint Monday against Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich over his lucrative mailing list, which the campaign has said it purchased from the candidate for $42,000.
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
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.
Jay Rubenstein / The Huffington Post:
Crusade vs. Jihad: Which Is Worse?  —  The First Crusade (1096-1099) spawned horrors the likes of which none of the crusaders had ever experienced.  And they were horrors of their own making.  Of the massacre in Jerusalem, a contemporary observed, “The knights could hardly bare it …
Discussion: Lawyers, Guns & Money
Patrick Marley / JSOnline:
Gableman voted with law firm after receiving free legal services  —  He cast key vote in collective bargaining case  —  By Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel  —  Madison - State Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman in two cases cast the deciding vote in favor of parties represented …
Discussion: First Draft
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 More Items: 
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
Nick Wingfield / New York Times:
Apple Wins Partial Victory on Smartphone Patent Claim
Benjamin Wittes / Lawfare:
NDAA FAQ: A Guide for the Perplexed
20 Pounds Of Headlines:
Brunner Says He'll Debate Opponents, But Won't Join Early January Debate
Discussion: Washington Post and The Politico
 Earlier Items: 
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