HUFFPOST HILL – Does Anyone Else Think Mike Pence Looks Like Anderson Cooper Mixed With John Boehner?

Mike Pence pulled a reverse-hipster, claiming other states enacted “religious liberty” laws before it was cool. Hillary Clinton is staffing up in Iowa, strongly hedging against a last-minute surge from John Edwards. And Breitbart tried to disprove Harry Reid’s eye injury by scrutinizing the design of his shower. We figured the account was false from the get-go: like most older men in the west, Harry Reid undoubtedly scrubs himself in an old brass tub with his knees jutting out. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, March 31st, 2015:

ARKANSAS LEGISLATURE PASSES ITS OWN ‘RELIGIOUS FREEDOM’ BILL – Times: “Despite intensifying criticism from business leaders both within and outside of Arkansas, the state legislature on Tuesday passed its version of a measure billed as a religious freedom law, joining Indiana in a swirl of controversy that shows little sign of calming. The Arkansas bill, passed when the General Assembly concurred on three amendments from the State Senate, now goes to the state’s Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, who expressed reservations about an earlier bill but more recently said he would sign the measure if it ‘reaches my desk in similar form as to what has been passed in 20 other states.’ The Arkansas Senate passed the measure last week…The attention turns to Governor Hutchinson, a moderate Republican who ran on a jobs platform and managed to extend a tailored form of Medicaid expansion in this Republican-controlled state.” [NYT]

From the leather swivel chair of his McGuireWoods LLP office, Evan Bayh takes a crap on Mike Pence. Bet that office has all kinds of Hoosier mementos & Senate junk.

SUPREME COURT SURPRISINGLY UNPATRIOTIC – Doesn’t the High Court appreciate all the white gangs who bopped and died for that flag? Lydia Wheeler: “The Supreme Court has denied an appeal from California high school students who argue that school officials violated their right to free speech when they made them turn American flag T-shirts inside out. On Cinco de Mayo in 2010, three white students came to Live Oak High School in American flag T-shirts. Because the school has a history of gang violence between whites and Hispanics, school officials were afraid the shirts would anger Hispanic students celebrating the Mexican holiday and told the white students to either turn their shirts inside out or take them off.” Whites and their gang culture. [The Hill]

Email hed from DCCC: “ALL HOPE IS LOST”

MIKE LEE CARRYING GOOGLE’S WATER, TAKING GOOGLE’S MONEY – “Did you mean Mike Lee is a dedicated public servant who is committed to ensuring a bright technological future?” Brody Mullins: “On Monday, Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) announced he is looking into meetings involving Google Inc. and the White House around the time federal antitrust regulators closed a high-profile probe into the company two years ago. On Tuesday, Mr. Lee will be accepting campaign contributions from Google employees and others at a fundraising event in Silicon Valley hosted by the technology industry. Sponsors of the event, including Google’s political action committee, are asking for a $500 donation to Mr. Lee’s re-election campaign from individuals, or up to $5,400 to be a ‘host’ for the event, according to an invitation seen by The Wall Street Journal. The fundraiser is being organized by TechNet, a high-tech lobbying association, along with the political action committees of several other tech organizations, including Google and Cisco. The event is being held at the Palo Alto, Calif., offices of one of Google’s law firms, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Mr. Lee’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.” [WSJ]

OBAMA SETS SOME PEOPLE FREE – Sam Stein and Ryan Reilly: “President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 22 individuals on Tuesday, more than doubling the number of commutations he has issued in the six-plus years he’s been in office. The men and women granted the reprieves had been imprisoned under an ‘outdated sentencing regime,’ the administration concluded. Eight of the 22 inmates had been sentenced to life imprisonment and would have died behind bars… Those granted clemency on Tuesday were all sentenced to jail for intent to distribute an illegal drug, with 14 of those cases involving possession or distribution of cocaine.” [HuffPost]

Harry Reid’s bruises were trumped up by the Bureau of Labor Statistics: “A Breitbart News investigation of the home exercise accident story told by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and ‘sources familiar with the incident’ has uncovered facts which appear to discredit his version of events surrounding a New Year’s Day incident that left him with gruesome injuries to his eye, face and ribs.” [Breitbart]

@BarakRavid: Tomorrow at noon: Netanyahu and Boehner give statements to the press at the top of their meeting in Jerusalem. It will be interesting

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER – For roughly 20 years, Mark Thompson lived alone in the woods, drifting between Maryland and Washington, D.C. He scraped by through odd jobs painting or landscaping, and also stealing. He drank and did drugs, and cycled in and out of jail. “I hated the fact that I woke up every morning,” he said. “Another day of hell.” He recalled once waking under a tree, covered in bird poop. As he rose, his bottle of Seagram’s gin tumbled to the ground. “As I bent over to pick it up, I saw my face in the liquor and I said, ‘Wow, who is that?’ I had hair coming out of my nose, I had a beard and a mustache. I looked a mess.” This is actually an upside-downer but you have to click to find out why.

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PENCE: ‘RELIGIOUS FREEDOM’ BILL IS PERFECT, THAT’S WHY I’M CHANGING IT – Amanda Terkel: “Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) said Tuesday he will back an amendment to the state’s new ‘religious freedom’ law clarifying that it does not allow businesses to deny service to anyone, and insisted that he never intended to discriminate against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community…’That is so offensive to me as a Hoosier,’ Pence said during a press conference in Indianapolis, casting himself, the GOP-controlled General Assembly and the new Religious Freedom Restoration Act as victims of ‘mischaracterizations’ perpetrated by the media and the law’s opponents….Pence said he wants the General Assembly to move legislation this week that would make it clear that businesses are not allowed to deny services to anyone. He continued to insist, however, that he does not support adding protections explicitly barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.” [HuffPost]

Dude, you lost NASCAR (from a statement by its awesomely-named spokesman Brett Jewkes) : “NASCAR is disappointed by the recent legislation passed in Indiana. We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance. We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport and therefore will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in the state of Indiana and anywhere else we race.” [NBC Sports]

BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski dug up some old op-eds Pence posted on his campaign website in the early 2000s: “Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.” … “Republicans, from George Washington to George W. Bush just have better ideas.” [BuzzFeed]

MENENDEZ INDICTMENT TO BE HANDED DOWN SOON – Any Menendez statement drinking game that doesn’t include “time and again,” “vindicated” and “[spouse looks on solemnly]” isn’t doing it right. AP: “Federal prosecutors are moving toward charging a Florida eye doctor over his dealings with New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, according to a person familiar with a Justice Department investigation into their relationship. The person said prosecutors are expected to bring charges against Dr. Salomon Melgen, whose medical offices were raided two years ago by federal authorities and who has been a political donor and longtime Menendez friend. Melgen has not been cooperating with prosecutors against Menendez, according to the person, who was not authorized to comment on the record about an ongoing federal investigation. Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, could also be charged as early as this week. He has repeatedly said that he has done nothing wrong and that he has always served honorably in Congress.” [AP]

HARRY REID HARRY REIDS SO HARD – Pity Harry Reid’s grandchildren who probably open up his presents Christmas morning only to find a note that says “you’re alive.” CNN: “He also said he had no regrets about what he said about Romney. When asked if his methods were reminiscent of McCarthyism, he responded, ‘They can call it whatever they want. Romney didn’t win did he?‘ … On Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina: ‘I like him very, very much. We’ve worked on stuff together. Whenever I — this will really hurt him, but I’ll do it anyway. Whenever I need to know what’s going on with Republicans — call Lindsey.'” [CNN]

CLINTON STAFFING UP IN IOWA – Jonathan Martin: “Mrs. Clinton has dispatched Michael Halle, formerly a top adviser to Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, to the state that starts the 2016 presidential nominating contest to develop and help execute her strategy there Mr. Halle, who is expected to ultimately serve in a senior role in Mrs. Clinton’s political department, will be based in Iowa through the caucuses…Mr. Halle will work closely with Matt Paul, a native Iowan and former aide to Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack. Additionally, Mrs. Clinton has tapped two other operatives to work on her Iowa campaign: Molly Schermann, who has worked for a number of Democratic campaigns in the state, and Lenora Hanks, another veteran of Mr. McAuliffe’s bid.” [NYT]

INGRAHAM STARTING CONSERVATIVE NEWS OUTLET – “A thinking man’s World Net Daily.” Dylan Byers: “Laura Ingraham, the conservative radio host and Fox News contributor, is planning to launch a new conservative news and opinion website, sources with knowledge of her plans told the On Media blog on Tuesday. One source said that Neil Munro, the political reporter who resigned from the Daily Caller this week, will serve as the site’s editor, though that could not immediately be confirmed. Neither Ingraham nor Munro responded to a request for comment on Tuesday…She will have a friend in Munro on this front. In 2012, Munro gained notoriety when he shouted a question at Obama in the middle of a Rose Garden announcement about changes to immigration policy. ‘Why’d you favor foreigners over Americans?’ Munro yelled. Earlier this year, while questioning Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid about immigration policy, he even spelled the word “amnesty” out for him: ‘Amnesty. A-M-N-E-S-T-Y.'” [Politico]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR – Here’s a dog playing soccer.

Sounds about right: “U.S. cable T.V. operator Cablevision Systems Corp is planning to make an offer for the New York Daily News as early as this week, valuing the troubled tabloid at just $1, according to a person familiar with the matter.” [Reuters]


– Man performs syncronized eating with Homer Simpson.

– Leo Tolstoy’s rules of life, including the exhortation to only have “two brothel visits per month.”

– Forget Madden, the Bill Belichick Offseason Simulator is our favorite football game.


@fshakir: After the mob hit, I told @AJentleson and @KristenOrthman that we should say it was slippery tiles. They wanted to do “exercise bands.”

@LOLGOP: Offensive tweets can get you fired, unless they’re good. Then they’ll get you hired.

@evale72: Rand Paul been advising Reid on eye treatment. So he’s in on it too! Mind. Blown.

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