[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/02/art.phone.gi.jpg caption="The White House accidentally directed reporters to a sex line Thursday."](CNN) - Journalists who dialed in to a White House conference call Thursday hoping for a media-friendly reception got a far friendlier response than they were counting on.
Instead of hearing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Advisor Jim Jones on the other end laying out foreign policy and security threats, reporters were greeted by a recording on a phone sex line.
"Do you have any hidden desires? If you feel like getting nasty, then you came to the right place," said a suggestive-sounding woman.
The White House says an aide merely mistyped the 800-dial in number - a mistake not likely to happen again.
It's a new administration, but an old problem: Some homeowners seeking mortgage relief from a Bush administration hotline in 2007 instead reached a Texas-based group that provides Christian education after President Bush slightly jumbled the correct number at a press briefing.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/13/art.huckpt0113.gi.jpg caption="Huckabee said McAuliffe is overreacting to his recent comments in Virginia."](CNN) - Mike Huckabee shot back at Terry McAuliffe late Thursday after the former DNC chairman and Virginia gubernatorial candidate accused Huckabee of encouraging voter suppression.
"As someone who served as a Governor for 10 years, I can say if these are the type of things Terry McAuliffe worries about and make him break down and cry, then he won't last 10 days as Governor much less four years and he doesn't deserve the people of Virginia's vote," Huckabee said in a statement to CNN.
At issue is a joke Huckabee made during a recent appearance on behalf of Bob McDonnell, the Republican candidate for governor.
Huckabee cracked that if McDonnell's supporters bump into someone who isn't planning on voting for the Republican, they should "let the air out of their tires and do not let them out of their driveway on election day."
The joke, a familiar one to those who followed Huckabee's presidential campaign, drew chuckles from the crowd.
McAuliffe, one of three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, sought to make the remark an issue on Thursday.
"There are no jokes to be made about denying people the right to vote in this country," he said in a statement. "It's not a laughing matter. This is a right that people fought and died for, so as public figures, we must be sure that we are setting the standard."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/02/illinois.blagojevich/art.rodblagojevich.gi.jpg caption=" Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is facing such charges as racketeering, conspiracy and wire fraud."]CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - Impeached former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, already facing conspiracy and fraud charges, was indicted on 16 additional felony counts by a federal grand jury on Thursday.
The indictment charges Blagojevich, and some of his closest aides and advisers, with a wide-ranging "scheme to deprive the people of Illinois of honest government," according to a statement by the attorney's office.
Blagojevich, 52, was charged with racketeering, conspiracy, wire fraud and making false statements to investigators, among other charges, according to the release.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/02/art.boehner.gi.jpg caption="Boehner took time Thursday to critique reporters' hair styles."](CNN) - House Republican Leader John Boehner is known for regularly poking fun at reporters about their hairstyles. But at his weekly press conference on Thursday he couldn't contain himself.
As he launched into his regular refrain about the Democrats' budget, saying it "spends too much, it taxes too much, and it borrows too much", he stopped himself - trying to hold back laughter during his own opening comments.
He quickly singled out a young print reporter, telling him, "You really do need to do something with that hair of yours." As reporters laughed, he joked, "I couldn't wait any longer."
He went on to finish his opening comments, but before calling on the same reporter, he teased, "Get a brush, would ya?"
The reporter had good sense of humor about the crack from the Ohio Republican, and shot back, "I'll get a haircut if you pay for it."
When Boehner called on the next reporter, he referred to him as "the bald guy."
But Boehner didn't confine his critique to male members of the Capitol press corps. When a female reporter, wearing her long hair pulled back, prefaced her question by joking that she hoped her hair was ok, Boehner couldn't resist: "You mean what's wadded up in the back of your head?"
Some reporters chuckled, but others thought the GOP leader was being a little harsh.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/17/art.huckabee.gi.jpg caption="Huckabee said Republicans should let the air out of Democrats' tires on election day."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Terry McAuliffe, the jovial former chairman of the Democratic National Committee now running for governor in Virginia, is not laughing at one of Mike Huckabee's jokes.
During a recent appearance on behalf of Bob McDonnell - the Republican candidate for governor - Huckabee wisecracked that if McDonnell's supporters bump into someone who isn't planning on voting for the Republican, they should "let the air out of their tires and do not let them out of their driveway on election day."
The joke is a Huckabee favorite: he recited it countless times at campaign stops nationwide during his failed bid to win the Republican nomination in 2007 and 2008.
Nevertheless, McAuliffe - who made more than a few surrogate appearances of his own on behalf of Bill and Hillary Clinton - is accusing of Huckabee of inciting "voter suppression."
"Let's be clear," he said in a statement. "There are no jokes to be made about denying people the right to vote in this country. It's not a laughing matter. This is a right that people fought and died for, so as public figures, we must be sure that we are setting the standard."
McAuliffe, who has made a point of highlighting his creation of a voting rights institute when he led the DNC, accused McDonnell of "standing by silently as Mike Huckabee encourages his supporters to suppress the vote."
McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin brushed off the McAuliffe criticism.
"Virginians are losing their jobs, unemployment is at its highest point in 17 years, and Chairman McAuliffe spends his afternoon feigning outrage over a lighthearted political joke by somebody not even on the ballot in Virginia," Martin said. "This attack demonstrates a complete lack of perspective and seriousness. Chairman McAuliffe clearly has no clue what Virginians are going through, and how tough times are."
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/12/gregg.nomination/art.gregg.obama.gi.jpg caption="New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg withdrew from consideration for Commerce Secretary in part because of policy differences with the White House over the 2010 census."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A report that the Obama administration will name an advocate of statistical sampling as the next census director has set off a fusillade of Republican criticism even though that choice has not been formally announced.
The Associated Press reported Thursday afternoon that the White House intends to nominate University of Michigan Prof. Robert M. Groves as the census director. Groves worked for the Census Bureau during the last census in 1990, and recommended at that time that the national head count be statistically adjusted to compensate for a possible undercount of millions of Americans.
"If true, this is an incredibly troubling selection that contradicts the Administration's assurances that the census process would not be used to advance an ulterior political agenda," California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa said in a statement. "We have a constitutional obligation to count every American – not use the end result of a statistical formula. . . . Mr. Groves will have every opportunity to address these concerns during the confirmation process."
The reaction from North Carolina Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry was even more forceful. "The fight to protect the accuracy and independence of the 2010 Census has just begun," McHenry, ranking member on a House subcommittee with jurisdiction over the census, said Thursday.
President Obama's decision to nominate Sen. Judd Gregg, a Republican from New Hampshire, as Commerce Secretary sparked partisan concern on both sides of the aisle over the 2010 census. Gregg subsequently withdrew his name from consideration for the Cabinet post in part over policy differences with the new administration over the 2010 census.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/29/art.obamamouth0329.gi.jpg caption="Obama said of Afghanistan: 'I think it's America's war.'"]WASHINGTON (CNN) - There appears to be a bit of daylight between President Obama and a top Pentagon official on the matter of whether the conflict in Afghanistan is “America’s war.”
After the president unveiled his new strategy to combat extremists in Afghanistan last week, CBS’ Bob Scheiffer asked Obama on his Sunday show: “This has really now become your war, hasn’t it?”
“I think it’s America’s war,” Obama responded. “And it’s the same war that we initiated after 9/11 as a consequence of those attacks on 3,000 Americans who were just going about their daily round. And the focus over the last seven years I think has been lost.”
But in testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, Michele Flournoy, the Pentagon’s Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, had a different perspective.
“I want to assure you that we do not think of this as America's war,” Flournoy told committee members. “We think of this, of defeating al Qaeda and dealing with its extremist allies, as an international challenge and an international responsibility. This is a burden that the international community must share.”
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/02/art.getty.sheila.bair.jpg caption="FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair has a chilly reaction to European calls for stepped up international regulations of the financial markets."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - WASHINGTON (CNN) - FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair has a chilly reaction to European calls for stepped up international regulations of the financial markets. "So frequently the international standards become so watered down," she says. As leaders met for the G20 summit, Bair sat down for an interview with CNN and cautioned that adding any new regulations without considering how they'd be enforced "is something we need to think carefully about."
Priot to the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for greater scrutiny of the financial sector. Sarkozy demanded "real transformation" in regulatory structures. And Merkel announced she had a set of "red lines" that must be met.
The G20 leaders agreed to establish a new financial stability board as an early warning sign for future crises, but it appears the board will have little power to actually crack down on risky investments like hedge funds.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/02/art.getty.m.obama.girls.sch.jpg caption="Michelle Obama got the rock star treatment at an all-girls school in London."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Greeted by shrieking students and sobs of joy, first lady Michelle Obama got the rock star treatment during a visit to an all-girls high school in London.
Mrs. Obama's visit to the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Language School, which is located in an impoverished part of London but has become one of the top schools in the area, was a surprise for the students. Many of the girls - who had been told to expect a special guest, but not that guest's identity - wiped away tears while the first lady spoke.
Mrs. Obama also got emotional during her visit, choking up in the middle of her speech to the girls. She spoke after watching a number of performances by the students, including a song by a choir, a modern dance performance and a drama.
"All of you are jewels, you are precious and you touch my heart," she said, as she appeared to be trying to hold back tears. "And it is important for the world to know that there are wonderful girls like you all over the world."
Mrs. Obama stressed the importance of getting a good education and called the students the "women that will build the world as it should be."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/01/stevens.case.dropped/art.stevens.gi.jpg caption="Ted Stevens lost his bid for a seventh Senate term against Begich in November following a conviction of seven counts of lying on Senate ethics reforms."](CNN) – The Alaska Republican Party is calling on Democratic Sen. Mark Begich to resign his first-term post as senator, one day after Attorney General Eric Holder cleared former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens of felony charges Wednesday.
"The Alaska Republican Party...believes that current Senator Mark Begich should resign his position to allow for a new, special election, so Alaskans may have the chance to vote for a senator without the improper influence of the corrupt Department of Justice," the Alaska Republican Party's Web site states.
Stevens lost his bid for a seventh Senate term against Begich in November following a conviction of seven counts of lying on Senate ethics reforms.
(Updated after the jump with Begich reaction)