The Note: (F.B.)I. Spy

Mr. Boehner said in today's Wall Street Journal that to restore trust in the House and our commitment to governing, we must recognize that most of the current ethical problems arise from one basic fact: government is too big and controls too much money. Dismantling the culture that produced Abramoff means you must reform how Congress exerts power. Earmarks have fueled the growth of the lobbying industry. John's proposals for earmark reform are resonating with members because it's clear we must establish principles by which worthy projects can be distinguished from worthless pork. As the House moves forward with lobbying reforms, earmark reform will be a top priority. John welcomed Mr. Shadegg into the race for this very reason. The two of them will make this race about reform and renewal. As for rumors of inflated vote tallies, we'll await the secret ballot. That vote will not be held open.

In his inaugural contribution to "Follow the Leader(ship race), Congressman Shadegg's Michael Steel has this to say:

As other candidates' dialing fingers shivered in the DC cold this weekend, Congressman Shadegg continued to work the phones in sunny Phoenix, lining up supporters and basking in the kudos that followed his successful appearance on Fox News Sunday.

I hope Acting Majority Leader/Whip Blunt has recovered from the quiet disbelief that greeted his announcement Saturday that he had lined up 117 votes, but still wouldn't give up his Whip position because, well, just because.

In any case, the newest candidate in the field continues to gather support and spread his message of a clean break and real reform. Though he got a late start, Shadegg is finding plenty of members who were unhappy choosing between Blunt and Boehner. It's a whole new ballgame.

Samuel Alito for Associate Justice:

With Judiciary Committee Democrats not wanting to cast their votes until after the Senate Democratic caucus meets on Wednesday, Specter and Leahy agreed Monday evening to wait until Tuesday, Jan. 24 to schedule the Senate Judiciary Committee vote, the Washington Post's Amy Goldstein reports. LINK

Frist chief of staff Eric Ueland says the Senate Majority Leader plans to start debate over Alito in the full Senate on Jan. 25, the day after the Judiciary Committee votes.

Charles Hurt of the Washington Times points out Republicans' disapproval of Democrats having delayed the Alito vote to next week after having made a "good-faith" agreement to vote today: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) called the delay a "breach of trust" while Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's chief of staff firmly stated, "Justice delayed will not be a justice denied." LINK

Sen. Ted Kennedy pulls his membership from Harvard's Owl Club this week, the Boston Herald reports. LINK

Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe reports that, "conservative judicial activists say that Republicans no longer need to nominate ''stealth" Supreme Court nominees whose views on abortion rights are unknown." LINK

Note to White House allies: it's a BIT early, per Steve Schmidt, for the public victory lap.

The National Italian American Foundation is up with a radio ad this week in Rhode Island bemoaning what it sees as a lack of dignity in the confirmation process and urging listeners to call Sen. Chafee (R-RI) to tell him to vote to confirm Samuel Alito.

The Abramoff affair:

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