[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/11/art.mobama0911.gi.jpg caption="First Lady Michelle Obama challenged chefs on an upcoming episode of Iron Chef America."]
Washington (CNN) - First Lady Michelle Obama challenged chefs from Iron Chef America to make 'garden fresh fare' in an upcoming special holiday installment of the Food Network show.
"Super Chef Battle," features Iron Chef Bobby Flay partnered with White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford competing against Iron Chef Mario Batali and Chef Emeril Lagasse.
In a preview of the special Comerford, who has been cooking for presidents since the Clinton administration, said the chefs were in "awe" of everything they saw at the White House.
The chefs were kept in the dark about most of the challenge, other than its special location inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
"We had no idea what was gonna be unveiled." Lagasse said. "I was kind of waiting for the chairman to mysteriously come out of the White House...and then all of the sudden the First Lady Mrs. Obama comes out and stunning– I mean absolutely striking."
In the weekly Republican radio and Web address, Blackburn said the Presidents plan for energy efficiency will only push the country toward a deeper economic recession.
"If President Obama has his way, the Copenhagen conference will produce mandatory emissions limits that would destroy millions of American jobs and damage our economic competitiveness for decades to come," the Tennessee congresswoman said.
While in Copenhagen, Denmark, next week, Obama is expected to set a goal of reducing emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels over the next decade.
"Just think of what will happen to small businesses and manufacturers hit with these skyrocketing energy bills," Blackburn added. "With Americans already facing double-digit unemployment, there could not be a worse time to unilaterally disarm our engines of job creation and economic growth."
According to the latest CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll, six in 10 Americans support a "cap and trade" proposal to cut pollution.
Touting her proposed bill H.R. 391, which aims amend the Clean Air Act so greenhouse gases are not subject to the act, Blackburn emphasized the Republicans aren't opposed to energy efficiency.
"Republicans are all for clean water, clean air, and clean energy," Blackburn said. "We just don't think we have to tax people out of their house and home to get there. That's why we have proposed an 'all of the above' energy strategy that says, let's put every clean, responsible energy option on the table so we can create jobs, ease the strain on family budgets, and clean up our environment."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/01/art.palinmoney.gi.jpg caption="Palin made a surprise appearance on The Tonight Show Friday."]
(CNN)– Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin made an appearance Friday night on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, where she poked some fun at William Shatner.
Earlier this year, the actor made fun of Palin by reading some of her tweets during an appearance on The Tonight Show. Friday, Shatner continued by reading excerpts from her book "Going Rogue."
"I always remind people from outside of our state right that there is plenty of room for Alaska's animals. Right next to the mashed potatoes," Shatner read.
Then, Palin surprised the audience with her appearance and decided it was time for some payback.
"I think it's appropriate that I read a few choice excerpts from Mr. Shatner's autobiography," Palin declared. "I attended my first Star Trek convention in November 1975. The money they offered me to attend this convention was… do I dare? Yes, I do. Out of this world."
According to an aide traveling with Palin, she mingled with other guests including Tony Bennett and Zack Braff after her appearance, and wore the red jacket from her book cover for the last time.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/11/art.bidendodd.jpg caption="Biden: Dodd is 'getting the living hell beat out of him'."]
Washington (CNN) - Joe Biden praised Sen. Chris Dodd Friday, but conceded his good friend - one of the Senate's most vulnerable Democrats - is "getting the living hell beat of him."
The vice president made his comments at a fundraiser for Dodd Friday in Hartford, Connecticut. Dodd had been scheduled to accompany Biden at the fundraiser and at event earlier in the day to announce nearly $4 million in federal stimulus funding to replace an aging fire station in East Hartford, but stayed in the nation's capital to work on health care reform legislation and other Senate business.
The five-term senator, who's up for re-election next year and fighting for his political life, was replaced by wife Jackie Clegg Dodd.
The vice president heaped compliments on his fellow Democrat, calling him "the single most gifted legislator in Congress, now that Teddy Kennedy's gone."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/11/art.capdusk1111.gi.jpg caption="The Senate is prepared to vote Sunday on a massive spending bill."]
Washington (CNN) - The U.S. Senate is prepared to vote Sunday on a massive spending bill that funds several Cabinet departments and other agencies for the 2010 budget year - money needed to fund the federal government after next week.
On Saturday, the Democratic-controlled Senate cleared a procedural vote needed to end a Republican filibuster and allow for Sunday's vote to take place. The vote was 60-34. Sixty votes of approval were the minimum needed to move the bill to the Senate floor.
The omnibus bill, which combines six separate appropriations measures, would provide $447 billion for non-defense, government agencies.
Those include the departments of Transportation, State Department, Veterans Affairs, Commerce and Justice for the fiscal year that started October 1.
A separate defense spending bill is expected to be considered next week.
The omnibus measure, which the House of Representatives passed Thursday, also authorizes about $600 billion in mandatory federal spending on government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, funding that is set by formula and cannot be altered by Congress.
Republicans denounced the bill as bloated with wasteful spending.
New York (Fortune) - President Obama is about to give the banks an earful about lending. But he may be a day late - and $116 billion short.
Obama will meet Monday with top executives of some of the nation's biggest lenders.
CEOs of 12 banks are expected, including the heads of American Express (AXP, Fortune 500), Bank of America, Capital One (COF, Fortune 500), Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo.
The president is expected to say he wants to see more loans for the sake of economic recovery. He'll also urge execs to curb compensation, to stop gouging customers with high credit card rates and hidden overdraft fees, and to support financial reform efforts.
(CNN) - The city of Houston could elect its first openly gay mayor in Saturday's election runoff, according to a new poll, which would make it the largest city in the country to elect an openly gay mayor.
City Controller Anise Parker leads attorney Gene Locke by 13 points, 49 percent to 36 percent according to the latest poll put out by Rice University in Houston. Fifteen percent of likely voters questioned said they were unsure who they would vote for.
Parker and Locke, who are both Democrats, face off for the second time Saturday because neither emerged with more than 50 percent of the vote in the November 3 election.
The poll, conducted December 7-9, has a sampling error of plus or minus 4.7 percent.
"Our economy is growing again," the president said in his weekly radio and Web address. "The flood of job loss we saw at the beginning of this year slowed to a relative trickle last month. These are good signs for the future, but little comfort to all of our neighbors who remain out of a job. And my solemn commitment is to work every day, in every way I can, to push this recovery forward and build a new foundation for our lasting growth and prosperity."
Obama said his recent proposals to provide additional tax cuts and lending for small businesses, and his support of the unemployment insurance extension will help keep the economy moving in a positive direction.
Obama also said Friday's passage of the financial reform legislation will make the U.S. economy less vulnerable to future problems.
"Yesterday, the House passed comprehensive reform legislation that incorporates some of the essential changes we need, and the Senate Banking Committee is working on its own package of reforms," Obama said. "I urge both houses to act as quickly as possible to pass real reform that restores free and fair markets in which recklessness and greed are thwarted; and hard work, responsibility, and competition are rewarded – reform that works for businesses, investors, and consumers alike."
"We can't afford to let the same phony arguments and bad habits of Washington kill financial reform and leave American consumers and our economy vulnerable to another meltdown,' He said.