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FILE - In this Nov. 23, 2011 file photo, an American flag flies from the U.S. Capitol in Washington. The federal government ran a lower budget deficit in August 2014 than a year ago, remaining on track to record the lowest deficit for the entire year since 2008. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

It's not for frugal: Half of the U.S. Senate gets an F in 'fiscal performance'

- The Washington Times

Alas, almost half of the U.S. Senate has earned an F grade in "fiscal performance" according to the National Taxpayers Union's 35th annual rating of Congress. Indeed, 45 senators received the rock bottom grade on the scorecard, which analyzes their responses to every single roll call vote affecting federal taxes, spending, debt and significant regulations.

A voter leaves the polls in Mount Pleasant, S.C., on Tuesday, June 24, 2014, after voting in the South Carolina primary runoff. Voters across the state were deciding the GOP nominations for lieutenant governor and superintendent of education, as well as the Democratic nomination for superintendent of education. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

49 percent of Americans now say they would vote for a gay presidential candidate

- The Washington Times

Big majorities of Americans - about seven-out-of-10 - say they would be comfortable voting for a presidential candidate who was Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, childless or single. So says a meticulous new Harris Poll which reveals some partisan divides among other demographics. Half of the overall public - 49 percent - would be comfortable voting for a gay presidential hopeful; 36 percent of Republicans, 61 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of independents agree with that.

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio was one of three Republicans that voted to end his party's filibuster of the energy efficiency bill. Mr. Portman, who co-sponsored the bill, called its defeat "yet another disappointing example of Washington's dysfunction."

The GOP's youthful Maverick PAC set to host Portman, Cruz, Priebus

- The Washington Times

The term "maverick" used to belong to Sen. John McCain back in the day. Now it's been expanded to represent a growing batallion of young, aggressive Republicans and conservatives who are ready to rumble, and in touch with their inner maverick, or words to that effect. Founded in 2009, Maverick PAC - or MAVPAC - now boasts 2,500 members. The group gathers Friday in the nation's capital for an annual conference that has attracted a stellar line-up of speakers.

Candy hearts with clear messages (Image from Associated Press)

Study finds people attracted to the smell of those who share their politics

- The Washington Times

Politics stink? Maybe. A new study reveals that people are attracted to the smell of others with similar political opinions - an idea that also helps explain why couples share political views. This is no random conclusion. Researchers from three universities persuaded 125 participants to evaluated the body odor of 21 "strong" liberal and conservative who were cooperative indeed. All taped little cotton squares in their underarms for 24 hours to get the sample scent.

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and former President Bill Clinton, listen to speakers in Washington in this Jan. 14, 2011 file photo. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Hillary Clinton heads to Iowa 'meat and greet' steak fry with vegan husband Bill

- The Washington Times

Poll numbers suggested this week that Hillary Clinton's lofty approval ratings are waning, and she appears more like a typical political candidate than invincible Democratic rock star. But Iowa is calling, nonetheless. On Sunday, she journeys to the heartland with former President Bill Clinton, both bound for the Hawkeye State's biggest "Steak Fry", this organized by retiring Sen. Tom Harkin for the 37th year in a row.

Two rival U.S. senators spend a week on a deserted island, courtesy of the Discovery Channel. (Photo from Discovery Channel)

Discovery Channel strands two rival U.S. senators on deserted island in shark-infested waters

- The Washington Times

It was inevitable. The old "survivor" reality TV template has gone political. The Discovery Channel has produced "Rival Survival",which takes a pair of real world political adversaries and maroons them on a remote island for a week. No, really. This is not a joke. "Senators Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, and Martin Heinrich, Minnesota Democrat,must put their political differences aside and work together for six days and six nights to find common ground through compromise if they want to survive," the network says.

A MQ-9 Reaper, armed with GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, is piloted by Col. Lex Turner during a mission over southern Afghanistan. (USAF via Associated Press)

Other nations back U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, oppose taking part themselves

- The Washington Times

Well, at least it's a sign that American air power, know how and guts still has respect and approval overseas. A new YouGov survey finds that majorities of European allies of the U.S. are just fine with air strikes on Iraq - as long as it's the U.S. that is doing the striking. Reactions to the findings ranged from annoyance to sarcasm.

Wary Americans: Only 22 percent say the economy is going to improve

- The Washington Times

Yes, about that U.S. economy: Wary Americans remain in a defensive posture when it comes to their pocketbooks, and for good reason. A majority still have some serious financial issues, with only 22 percent feeling confident that the economy will improve - with Democrats more hopeful than their Republican counterparts.

A pre-K classroom is pictured at the new Plaza Towers elementary school, complete with a separate bathroom, in Moore, Okla., Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. Plaza Towers Elementary School was destroyed by an EF5 tornado on May 20, 2013, killing seven students. The four rooms in this quad and the hallway are a FEMA-approved safe area. The old Plaza Towers did not have a safe room. The new rooms can be used as safe rooms for severe weather or other lockdown situtaitons. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The cost to educate young illegal immigrants over $761 million - a bill for all 50 states

- The Washington Times

The complexities of illegal immigration continue. One new estimate places the annual cost for state governments to educate unaccompanied minor immigrants at $761,405,907 a year, this according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a non-profit interest group which based its findings on federal data. Tax-payer funded classes conducted in Spanish or indigenous languages, plus free school meals contribute to the cost.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico, in Mexico City, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014. Christie took a spin on the international stage Wednesday, bringing state business to Mexico City and testing his diplomatic savvy as he considers a run for U.S. president in 2016. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Hola? Chris Christie won't speak any Spanish during his trade mission to Mexico

- The Washington Times

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is being prudent during his three-day trade mission to Mexico. Though it may seem an unlikely match, there's a certain coziness between his state and the border nation: New Jersey exported $2.1 billion in goods to Mexico in 2013; the Garden State also imported $3.4 billion from Mexico. And of interest: Mr. Christie won 51 percent of the Hispanic vote during his 2013 re-election.

Incoming Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan (Washington Post photo)

The Washington Post makes room for a Republican publisher

- The Washington Times

Changes of command often occupy the most complicated areas of the media marketplace. In quick succession, a family dynasty is about to end at The Washington Post when Katharine Weymouth steps down as publisher on October 1, to be replaced by one Frederick J. Ryan, Jr. Ms. Weymouth was advised of impending change by Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos in mid-August; the news organization went public with it on Tuesday.

"One Generation Away, a feature-length documentary, explores the erosion of religious freedom in America - and debuted in a church. (Image from EchoLight Studios)

Rick Santorum by-passes Hollywood and debuts his feature-length movie in a church

- The Washington Times

He continues to appear on presidential straw polls. Now he is taking on politically correct culture and the bullies of the public realm. That would be Rick Santorum, CEO of the independent EchoLight Studios, which have already produced significant films that support faith and family values. Like Glenn Beck, Mr. Santorum has joined a growing group of feisty media folk who are bypassing Hollywood, and heading straight for the grassroots with their work. Religious freedom is at stake here, he says. And commercial theaters are an afterthought.

** FILE ** Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, and his former vice presidential running mate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., arrive for a dinner at the Union Club on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, in Chicago. Ryan is on tour to promote the book as he weighs a presidential campaign of his own. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Could Mitt Mania lead to Ryan Renaissance?

- The Washington Times

Mitt Mania continues, with potential: The public rediscovery of Mitt Romney may evolve into a renaissance for Rep. Paul Ryan if time and circumstance are right. But for now, Iowa loves Mr. Romney more than any other Republican: In a field of 14 potential GOP presidential candidates, a USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Wednesday find him in the very far lead.