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Politics Today: How Gas Prices Can Hurt Obama, Jon Stewart Talks Birth Control Controversy, And More

Tracy Bloom |
February 21, 2012 | 12:30 p.m. PST

Deputy Editor

Obama's Reelection Campaign Could Be Hurt By Rising Gas Prices: One aspect of the economy that may be beyond President Obama's control, but that could still hurt his reelection campaign nonetheless, are rising gas prices. As the Los Angeles Times reported: "Just as the recovery is finally looking real, surging fuel prices are once again looming as a major threat to the financial health of U.S. consumers and the broader economy." That could spell trouble for the president's campaign, according to NBC News. From First Read: "The politics of gas prices are always dangerous. After all, this is something that almost every American consumer sees, and every news organization (local or national) is ready to cover it (and usually LEAD their broadcasts with it)...that the Obama White House pushed several news items yesterday (like a Houston Chronicle story on increased oil production) to deflect charges from Republicans that the administration is to blame for the higher gas prices. The White House moves yesterday also indicate how nervous they are about the politics of the pump story."

Romney, Santorum Lead Michigan In Different Polls: Two new polls suggest the Michigan primary will be a close one, mainly because they each show a different winner. The latest Mitchell/Rosetta Stone Poll shows Mitt Romney narrowly leading the race in his home by two percentage points over Rick Santorum, 32 to 30 percent. However, a new Rasmussen Reports survey shows Santorum still leading the Michigan GOP primary race over Romney, 38 to 34 percent. With a little more than week to go until the primary, it appears the race is still a toss-up between Romney and Santorum. Michigan voters will have their final say when they cast their ballots on February 29. 

Is Santorum Good For Chastity-Belt Sales?: Rick Santorum loves to fondly reminisce about the days (long gone by) before "the pill" was widely used by women - the days when sex occurred only between men and women, and only in marriage, and only for procreation purposes (and, as his backer Foster Friess put it, a time when Bayer aspirin was considered a form of birth control). "“One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be," he once said. In Santorum's warped, Victorian mind, these are what he considers "the good old days." And that led Vanity Fair to wonder: what about chastity belts? The magazine interviewed Donald Haynes, the owner of Chastity Belts USA (a leading manufacturer, as it turns out), and discovered that there has indeed been a boost in sales! Apparently though, the uptick in sales may have something to do more with taxes than Santorum's Victorian worldview. Go figure.

Santorum's Beer Ties: He may be anti-sex, but one thing Rick Santorum is definitely in favor of - beer! While touring a brewery in Iowa last December, Santorum talked to reporters about his favorite beers: "It's the stouts, the bocks and then the white ales and the wheats,” he said then. Turns out, Santorum has more ties to beer than just enjoying them; he also received substantial amounts of cash from the beer industry during his 12 years in the U.S. Senate. According to Mother Jones: "From 1995 through 2006, Rick Santorum was one of the upper chamber's biggest beneficiaries of beer industry cash. Wholesalers, brewers, and their top executives filled Santorum's coffers with at least $80,000 in campaign donations. And they got their money's worth: Four times during his two Senate terms Santorum pushed to cut the beer excise tax by half, over the protests of economists and public health experts who say that a lower tax would lead to a loss of revenue and lives." As Mother Jones further noted, "According to public health researchers, when the beer industry saves money, the rest of society ends up picking up the tab."

Stewart Takes On All-Male "Sausage Fest" Birth Control Hearing Panel: Jon Stewart ripped Congress on Monday night's "The Daily Show" over its handling of the birth control hearing. Stewart took issue with Republican Rep. Darrell Issa's all-male panel, pointing out the outrageousness of having an oversight hearing on issue that primarily affects women, in which no women were actually allowed to participate. Stewart did, however, note that: "While no ladies actually ever spoke on behalf of ladies, some of these fellas were wearing gowns, so that's something." He also questioned the Catholic's Church support of health insurance plans that cover - wait for it! - Viagra. "How is it that women can't get their pill and men can get their pill?" he said. To get answers, Stewart turned out to his own all-male panel to address the issue. Here are both segments:



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

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