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Last summer, New Jersey strongman Chris Christie was heavily favored for
re-election (and then some).

Thanks to his hard-fought reputation as a straight-shooter, he was feared (if not loved) by most Garden Staters.

Real New Jerseyans know what's good for them, unlike "this little Serbian" in Fort Leehe needed to be schooled.

So, (presumably) incited by YouTube videos, Christie loyalists devised a lesson plan (and subsequent cover-up).

He would soon learn that when you mess with the bully, you get the horns.

It was all pretty brilliant, really; and they would've gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those meddling investigators.

This week, in the face of mounting evidence of wrongdoing, Christie held a nearly two hour press conference, which ultimately raised more questions than it answered.

When all was said and done, 19,734 words had been spoken—and not a one of them was "terrorism."

Morning lineup:

Meet The Press: RNC Chairman Reince Priebus; "Bridgegate" Roundtable: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D), Kim Strassel (Wall Street Journal), Mark Halperin (TIME) and Chuck Todd (NBC News); Foreign Policy Roundtable: Former Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Jeffrey Goldberg (Bloomberg News) and Chris Matthews (MSNBC).

Face The Nation: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL); Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD); New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D); "Miracle on the Hudson" Pilot Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger; Roundtable: Rana Foroohar (TIME), Michael Gerson (Washington Post), John Harris (Politico) and Gerald Seib (Wall Street Journal).

This Week: Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani (9/11); Crisis Management Expert Judy Smith; Political Roundtable: Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL); Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile, Republican Strategist Matthew Dowd and Former Obama White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe; "Women in the Workplace" Roundtable: Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, U.S. Air Force Col. Jeannie Leavitt, Author Liza Mundy and Author Reshma Saujani.

Fox News Sunday: Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL); Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK); Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD); Roundtable: George Will (Washington Post), Bob Woodward (Washington Post), Republican Strategist Karl Rove and Juan Williams (Fox News).

State of the Union: Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D); Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); Roundtable: RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer, DNC Communications Director Mo Elleithee and Karen Tumulty (Washington Post).

Evening lineup:
60 Minutes will feature: a report on the MLB's doping case against Alex Rodriguez (preview); and, a story about people with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (preview).

On Comedy Central...

Jon Stewart weighed in on Chris Christie's epic press conference.

The Daily Show

Monday: Documentary Filmmaker Roger Ross Williams

Tuesday: Fashion Guru Tim Gunn

Wednesday: Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

Thursday: Author/Journalist Stephen Brill

And Stephen Colbert weathered the stupidity on "Fox & Friends."

The Colbert Report

Monday: "Frontline" Producer David Fanning

Tuesday: Author Deborah Soloman

Wednesday: Author/Journalist Gabriel Sherman

Thursday: Fast Food Worker Naquasia LeGrand

Elsewhere...

GOP messaging guru Frank Luntz has a sad.

Most of all, Luntz says, he wishes we would stop yelling at one another. Luntz dreams of drafting some of the rich CEOs he is friends with to come up with a plan for saving America from its elected officials. "The politicians have failed; now it's up to the business community to stand up and be heard," he tells me. "I want the business community to step up." Having once thought elites needed to listen to regular people, he now wants the people to learn from their moneyed betters. [...]

Luntz would also like to break into Hollywood as a consultant, but he can't get his calls returned. He can't figure it out. He thinks it must be a partisan thing. In every other industry, he says, 90 percent of his presentations result in a contract. But in entertainment, he pitches and pitches and pitches (he wouldn't tell me which studios or shows) and things seem to go well, but then there's some excuse. Not this time. Not the right project. [...]

When he's at home in Los Angeles, The Newsroom is the high point of Luntz's week. He turns off his phone and gets a plate of spaghetti bolognese and a Coke Zero and sits in front of his 85-inch television, alone in his 14,000-square-foot palace. "That's as good as it gets for me," he says.

In related news...

Fresh off the success of their outreach to minorities and women, House Republican leaders coached their members about appealing to the unemployed.

Clearly, some Republican message-meisters are cringing at the impression some of their folks have left that they think the beneficiaries of extended unemployment insurance are freeloaders who ought to get up off their butts and get a job (you know, the jobs that are falling off trees like overripe fruit). And so, per WaPo's Robert Costa, House GOPers have taken action to instruct the troops:
House Republican leaders sent a memo this week to the entire GOP conference with talking points designed to help rank-and-file Republicans show compassion for the unemployed and explain the Republican position on unemployment benefits. In the memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post, House Republicans are urged to be empathetic toward the unemployed and understand how unemployment is a "personal crisis" for individuals and families. The memo also asks Republicans to reiterate that the House will give "proper consideration" to an extension of long-term insurance as long as Democrats are willing to support spending or regulatory reforms.

Meanwhile...

In the Senate, that message apparently didn't get through.

Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma on Wednesday used debate over extending unemployment insurance to claim that climate change was really a harmless act of God.

"It is a little bit humorous to me that we are talking about extending unemployment benefits in the midst of one of the most intense cold fronts in American history," he said on the Senate floor. "I saw one newscaster yesterday who said: If you are under 40, you have not seen this stuff before. It has to make everyone question — and I am going to tie this together — whether global warming was ever real."

I feel your pain.

- Trix

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