POLITICS

Political Buzz: Rush Limbaugh vs. Fox News; Republicans try to exploit IRS misdeeds; Lautenbergs take shot at Booker

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Politics,Congress,Republican Party,Fox News,Rush Limbaugh,IRS

It would be a match made for pay-per-view. Rush Limbaugh, the king of conservative talk radio, appears to be prepping for a showdown with fellow conservative heavyweight and Fox News founder Roger Ailes.

Twice this month Limbaugh made what sounded like disparaging remarks about Fox. He complained that Fox wouldn't allow him to talk about the state of the Republican Party during a July 3 interview — though he did anyway — and this week he told a caller to his own show that watching Fox would "make you question your sanity."

"You need to stop watching these people," Limbaugh told a caller who had complained about Democrat Julie Roginsky, a Fox regular, "You're gonna watch these people, you're gonna say, 'How in the world can we have such idiotic people?' and you're gonna think maybe they're not and you're crazy."

Fox News quickly posted its own story on the would-be flap, reassuring its audience that while Limbaugh took exception to a specific Left-leaning guest, "at no point did Limbaugh advise his vast audience not to watch Fox News in general."

Limbaugh later claimed it was all a misunderstanding. He was talking only about liberal commentators who appear on Fox, he said, and not Fox itself.

"I did not tell anybody to stop watching Fox," Limbaugh said on a later show.

GOP SEES GOLD IN IRS WOES

It's apparently not possible to say too many bad things about the IRS.

The tax agency that Americans love to hate has been caught in a series of misdeeds, from targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status to lavish spending on employee conferences and bonuses at a time when lawmakers are trying to restrain spending and public trust in government is plummeting.

Entering stage right: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who this week outlined plans to pass several bills targeting the IRS before Congress leaves town for its August recess.

One measure Cantor wants to take up would allow federal agencies to put senior career officials on "investigative leave" when they're under investigation. Unlike the current administrative leave policy, they would not be paid. A top IRS official who refused to testify in front of a congressional committee was relieved of her duties but remained on the payroll.

Other measures would allow Americans to record conversations they have with federal enforcement officials and curb spending on conferences and "lavish vacation getaways for bureaucrats on the taxpayer's dime."

LAUTENBERGS SHOW NO LOVE FOR BOOKER IN N.J. SENATE RACE

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat who gained a national following for his handling of a troubled city's woes and an act of personal heroism, is popular enough in the state that he was declared the front-runner for a Democratically inclined U.S. Senate seat as soon as he announced he was running.

But not everyone loves Booker.

The family of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, whose seat is being filled in the Aug. 13 special election, this week endorsed Rep. Frank Pallone in a statement that took a thinly veiled shot at Booker's status as a media darling.

"Frank Pallone knows that gimmicks and celebrity status won't get you very far in the real battles that Democrats face in the future," the Lautenberg family said in a statement. "While it may not always attract glamorous headlines, Frank knows that to be effective you must put New Jersey and your principles first, not your own glory."

The Lautenbergs' beef with Booker dates back to January, when the young, telegenic mayor, who once ran into a burning building to save a constituent, announced that he intended to run for seat before Lautenberg decided whether he would seek re-election in 2014 or retire.

At the time, Lautenberg likened Booker to a disrespectful child in need of a spanking.

Lautenberg died in June.

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