Scandal: Obamacare Forces Insurers To Refund Millions!

obamacareevil

As noted by the Denver Business Journal's Ed Sealover: while the Denver Post's health insurance supersleuth Art Kane continues his ongoing series of one-sided hit pieces "special reports" about the rollout of the Affordable Care Act in Colorado, wherein everything consumers have ever complained about with regard to health care delivery in the United States is laid at the feet of "Obamacare"–health insurers sometimes have billing problems!–consumers are seeing another benefit of the ACA in the form of a check.

Colorado consumers will receive nearly $3 million in refunds from insurance companies that did not spend enough money on patient care last year.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday that nine companies must cut checks to 52,277 customers for a cumulative total of $2,721,701 for violating the medical loss ratio rule established in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The rule requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on patient care and quality-improvement activities or else refund a portion to consumers…

Sealover reports that this year's refunds to Colorado consumers are less than in the first year of Obamacare's "medical loss ratio" rule, which requires health insurance companies to spend 80% of small group and individual premium dollars directly on health care and services to improve care. For large group plans, the requirement is 85%. The lower rebate payout this year can logically be interpreted as compliance.

It's just another example of how the myths surrounding the Affordable Care Act are not being substantiated by voters' experience with the law. Public opinion persistently trends against "Obamacare," even as consumers reap the benefits of individual provisions like the medical loss ratio rule. Millions of consumers are saving big money with subsidized premiums, and for others those subsidies are the different between having insurance and not having insurance. Polling shows that while "Obamacare" is unpopular, the things that the law actually does enjoy broad public support.

We've been saying for years that opposition to the ACA would fall apart once the benefits of the law were generally known by the public, proving once and for all that the horror stories opponents predicted were hogwash. Working against that has been an opposition who clung to this issue well past the point of reason, an effective propaganda dissemination machine untroubled by reality, and a troubled initial rollout of the health insurance exchanges that gave opponents weeks longer to grouse.

But the bottom line hasn't changed. It can't go on forever.

Somebody Throw in the Towel for John Suthers, Cynthia Coffman

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

Colorado AG John Suthers and chief deputy Cynthia Coffman keep marching toward the political abyss.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers was dealt yet another blow in his ongoing and fruitless quest to defend a same-sex marriage ban in Colorado. From the Denver Post:

Federal and state judges have now declared the law unconstitutional, and Boulder's clerk continues to defy him by issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore rejected Suthers' request to halt proceedings in the case but stayed his decision until 8 a.m. Aug. 25.

That gives Suthers time to appeal Moore's decision to the 10th U.S. Court of Appeals — the same court that found a similar ban in Utah to be unconstitutional less than a month ago.

Moore's ruling marks the fourth time in two weeks that Suthers' efforts have been thwarted by a judge. The attorney general has repeatedly argued that the issuance of licenses continues to stir legal chaos in the state, even though Gov. John Hickenlooper and others have urged him to stop defending the marriage ban.

Lest you might think that Suthers is finally seeing the writing on the wall here, Suthers' office filed yet another appeal with the 10th Circuit less than an hour after yesterday's ruling. As we wrote on Tuesday, Suthers' obsession with defending something that neither the public nor the courts seem to agree with is going to hurt Republican candidates in 2014 — particularly Republican Attorney General candidate Cynthia Coffman, who is Suthers' chief deputy. This entire story is getting even more absurd for Suthers by the day — particularly with news that he has thrown Colorado into another legal challenge over same-sex marriage in Indiana. Really.

From the Indianapolis Star:

The attorneys general of 10 states have joined in Indiana's appeal of a federal judge's ruling that found the state law banning same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

In a filing this week, the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah filed a friend of the court brief alleging it is not the judicial branch's role to determine whether same-sex marriage should be permitted…

…"The only question before the court is whether a rational person can believe that redefining marriage, so as to belittle it to no more than a status symbol or a congratulatory certificate, could damage the institution's longstanding and undisputed role in helping to encourage opposite-sex couples to stay together and raise the children they create" the attorneys general argue. [Pols emphasis]

That sentence above is sadly absurd — rhetoric that is a relic from a much different time in this country. Suthers has been busy filing losing briefs with various courts, so perhaps he hasn't had a chance to check out any of this summer's new TV shows. For example, the reality TV show "Married at First Sight," airing on something called the FYI channel, in which men and women agree to marry each other despite never meeting until the wedding ceremony itself. Because, you know, that doesn't belittle marriage or anything.

We don't see how this ends well for Suthers or Coffman, unless their real goal is to rack up a record number of losses in appeals court. If that's the case, well, good work. Or something.

Thursday Open Thread

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm."

–Winston Churchill

El Paso County Cuts Off “Shirtless Sheriff” Maketa

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.

As the Colorado Springs Gazette's Matt Steiner reports, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa may have survived a recall attempt against him as he defiantly serves out his final days in office after an explosive sexual misconduct/cronyism scandal, but the county is done paying for the expensive legal representation he's been enjoying:

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa will be on his own if he wants to continue using high-profile defense attorney Pamela Mackey to defend recent accusations against him.

Senior assistant county attorney Diana May reiterated that the county would no longer pay for Mackey's services in a July 17 letter obtained by The Gazette that highlights ongoing friction between the county attorney's office and the Sheriff's Office. The county had agreed in early June to hire Mackey temporarily for a fee of $250 per hour with a cap of a $10,000. The county commissioners needed to approve anything above that amount.

"El Paso County did not authorize your retention past the initial $9,999 engagement," May wrote in a letter to Mackey. "That engagement has concluded."

Mackey, who previously represented professional athletes Kobe Bryant and Patrick Roy, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

It's not unreasonable for an organization to defend an employee in erstwhile good standing, but El Paso County Sheriff Maketa is serving out the last months of his term against the wishes of the county's leadership. After claims seeking almost $4 million in damages over Maketa's professional and personal improprieties, the El Paso County Board of Commissioners took a vote of no confidence in Maketa and asked for his resignation. Maketa's refusal to go away quietly after this massive disgrace has greatly worsened the embarrassment felt by his former political allies–from fellow sheriffs who followed his lead in last year's recalls and anti gun control litigation, to those who believed Maketa's political future beyond elected law enforcement was very bright.

Today they're just waiting for the end, which can't come soon enough for everyone except Terry Maketa.

Caption This Photo: Chris Christie and Both Ways Bob

As forwarded to us from today's Republican Governors Association fundraiser in Denver featuring Colorado GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez. What might the East Coast's most famously vindictive governor and our own Both Ways Bob have said to one another today? Another lecture on Colorado's "quality of life?" Thoughts on managing traffic flow across major bridges in Democratic areas?

We shudder to think, but you probably have some ideas here.

beauchristieadjusted

UPDATE: FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie barreled past a small group of protestors and into Sam’s No. 3 Wednesday afternoon, saying hello to midday diners and posing for photographs before making his way to a back room and holding forth before a bevy of television cameras and reporters.

There, during a 15-minute exchange, Christie said the Republican Governors Association is planning to strongly support Bob Beauprez, the GOP nominee in Colorado’s upcoming governor’s race while proudly doubling down on the comments he made three months ago criticizing the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana and its quality of life.

“I’m not backing off an inch from what I said,” Christie told reporters. “What I said was what I believe. I think legalizing marijuana is the wrong thing to do.”

When Gardner Praised Udall…

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman takes us on a trip down memory lane–before U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner's career depended on disparaging everything that Sen. Mark Udall and other Democrats have ever said or done:

The recent battle over fracking in Colorado quickly entered Colorado's Senate race and the latest tiff involves Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) caught on tape a couple years ago praising his opponent on oil and gas policy.

"I believe, as Governor Hickenlooper believes, as Senator Udall has said, that the decisions on fracking ought to be made at the local level," Gardner says in the video, provided to 9NEWS by the Udall campaign. [Pols emphasis]

Gardner was responding to a question from a voter at a 2012 town hall event in Berthoud, Colorado…

Now before anybody gets too excited:

In the video, Gardner goes on to clarify that he meant states should control fracking as opposed to the federal government, adding, "I believe that [fracking policy] ought to be deferred to the state, just as Governor Hickenlooper does."

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).

So no, Gardner was not making a statement that could be interpreted as endorsing the local control ballot initiatives underway this year. That said, this little vignette courtesy 9NEWS is a useful reminder that Republicans in Colorado don't really have much of a case against Colorado Democrats on pro-energy policy. After Sen. Udall announced his opposition to the local control ballot measures, Republicans continued to attack him with the same intensity. But the fact is, Udall's longstanding support for a balance between energy development and conservation is much closer to the mainstream in Colorado than "drill baby drill"–and that's why the polls consistently show Udall is better trusted on energy policy and the environment than his opponent.

There was a time, as you can see, when the trust the public places in Udall (and yes, even Gov. John Hickenlooper) on energy and the environment worked to Gardner's advantage as he tried to demonstrate how his views were mainstream views. There is a possibility that this November, the voters of this state will push the frame of the debate over drilling in Colorado well to the left of any of these politicians' comfort zones.

Either way, it's better to define the center than attack it.

PPP: Udall, Hickenlooper 44%, Gardner, Beauprez 43%

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Today's release from Public Policy Polling reaffirms the present dead heat in Colorado's U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races, with incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and Gov. John Hickenlooper clinging to statistically insignificant leads over their Republican challengers:

PPP's new Colorado poll finds the exact same numbers in the races for both Governor and the Senate- Democratic incumbents John Hickenlooper and Mark Udall are clinging to 44/43 leads over their challengers Bob Beauprez and Cory Gardner respectively.

In the Governor's race this represents a significant tightening over the last four months. In March we had found Hickenlooper leading Beauprez 48/38. Since that time though Hickenlooper's approval rating has dropped a net 10 points, from 48/41 then to now 43/46. And Beauprez's net favorability has improved 14 points from 20/33 then to now 31/30. That movement's come largely among Republicans- he's gone from 33/22 to 57/12 within his own party as it's unified in the wake of last month's primary.

The closeness in the Senate race is nothing new though. Our last four polls have found Udall with leads of 2, 2, 4, and now 1 point. This is shaping up as yet another key Senate contest this year where the early blitz of negative advertising has left both candidates unpopular. Udall has an upside down approval rating at 36/47, but Gardner's not a whole lot more well liked with 34% of voters rating him favorably to 39% who have a negative opinion.

beauprezdemsfear​Read the poll's full results here.

These numbers confirm a trend we've seen in other recent polling: a swift closure of the gubernatorial race as GOP nominee Bob Beauprez consolidates post-primary support and Hickenlooper recovers from a tough few weeks in the press, while the U.S. Senate race remains extremely tight with little movement in the last few weeks. We continue to foresee trouble for Beauprez as the press examines his far-right record, which hasn't happened even as Hickenlooper has faced what will likely be the worst press of the campaign stemming from his disastrous appearance in front of hostile county sheriffs. The same lies ahead for Cory Gardner, though it's arguable that Beauprez will prove easier to marginalize due to the sheer extremity of Beauprez's past statements–not to mention Gardner's slick deceptiveness.

Looking down the ticket, undeniably troubling indicators for Colorado Democrats–demonstrating the significant challenge ahead for them this year after years of political dominance. Many voters are undecided, but Republican candidates for Treasurer, Attorney General, and Secretary of State all hold leads well outside this poll's margin of error. Republicans also hold a 45-38% advantage in the poll's generic legislative ballot. Even if trends in the top-ticket races stabilize in favor of the Democratic candidates as we expect, Democrats need to recover downballot to avoid a divided state government in 2015–potentially much more divided than was the case in 2011-12, when the GOP held a one-seat House majority.

Can Democrats get it done? Absolutely–the record shows that the polls consistently underestimate Democrats in this state, as they did in 2010 when the "Republican wave" broke on the Rocky Mountains.

But anyone on either side who feels confident today is a fool.

Dueling Obamacare Rulings Likely Headed to Supreme Court

As Fox 31 reports:

Two appeals courts reached differing decisions on Obamacare subsidies Tuesday, meaning a likely Supreme Court case on the key component of the health care law.

A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 against the subsidies, while a similar panel of the 4th Circuit down the road in Richmond, Virginia unanimously backed the Obama administration.

The opposing rulings mean the next stop for the issue will almost certainly be the nation’s highest court in a case that represents the best hopes of the 2010 law’s conservative foes to undermine it.

The rulings do not affect the Colorado health insurance exchange, said Connect for Health Colorado spokesman Ben Davis, because the Colorado exchange is run independently.

These cases bring up an interesting political dilemma for Republicans. A Supreme Court ruling on subsidies could significantly weaken the Affordable Care Act's health coverage mandate, which would be the kind of victory that outspoken critics of Obamacare have been clambering to see. However…

New data shows that the number of uninsured Americans has dropped to its lowest level since 2008. While Americans still aren't in love with Obamacare overall, poll numbers have been slowly shifting in favor of the law — especially if you are one of the millions of newly-insured Americans:

According to the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, about 45 percent of Americans still have an unfavorable view of the law (down from 50 percent in January). However, according to the Commonwealth Fund, 58 percent of Americans newly enrolled in Medicaid or private insurance say that they are better off now than they were before the law. Among the newly insured, 78 percent are satisfied to very satisfied with their coverage, including 74 percent of those who identify themselves as Republicans. Sixty percent of the newly covered have already started to use their new insurance, and most enrollees said they could get an appointment within two weeks.

If the Supreme Court rules unfavorably for the Affordable Care Act, Republicans will boast loudly of their efforts to defeat Obamacare…and millions of Americans will want quick answers for what they are supposed to do now. Republicans have no clear alternative for Obamacare, which would leave them with a narrative consisting of little more than, "Hey, we broke it!" How that wins Republicans the Presidency in 2016 — or any other elections, for that matter — is not a question we could even pretend to be able to answer.

Suthers Same-Sex Marriage Obsession Will Prove Costly to Republicans

John Suthers, Don Quick.

Attorney General John Suthers (left) is making things easier for Democrat Don Quick to win in November.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers continues his obsession with trying to stop county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite repeated court rulings that strike down bans on same-sex marriage.

On Monday, Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz decided to stop issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples after dealing with what his office called "legal threats" from Suthers. Said Ortiz in a statement:

"I stand by the initial decision I made and still believe that an individual's constitutional rights outweigh a law that discriminates against American citizens. As the Attorney General has admitted it is only a matter of time before Marriage Equality is validated by the Supreme Court of the United States. In light of the Attorney General's threat of litigation, and the Colorado Supreme Court's recent order, I have decided to avoid adding to the Attorney General's already heavy sum of wasteful litigation in this matter. Pueblo County will wait for further clarification on the constitutionality of a clearly unconstitutional law."

We continue to be perplexed by Suthers' strange obsession with defending a ban that courts have repeatedly ruled to be unconstitutional. Suthers has been rumored to be looking at running for Mayor of Colorado Springs in 2015, so perhaps he views his defense of a same-sex marriage ban as something that may help him with a highly-conservative Colorado Springs electorate. But the writing is on the wall here — and has been for a long time — and support for marriage equality among the broader electorate is rising as well. The term-limited Suthers may not have any real interest in being on the same side as public opinion, but that's not a problem that Republican Attorney General candidate Cynthia Coffman can just ignore.

As chief deputy in the Attorney General's office, Coffman may feel compelled to stand behind her boss on this issue, but voters won't be impressed. Coffman has penned OP-EDs supporting Suthers and his dogged defense of an obviously-doomed law, but the debate has opened up a huge opportunity for Democrat Don Quick to differentiate himself with voters. As Quick wrote in his own recent OP-ED:

Recently in this paper, Cynthia Coffman, the chief deputy attorney general and my opponent in November's election for Colorado attorney general, attempted to defend her position of continuing the defense of Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage. Coffman implied that the reason her office is still defending Colorado's ban is that the Attorney General's Office is required to defend all Colorado laws, even if there are grave doubts about their constitutionality. That's not true, and Ms. Coffman knows it…

…The attorney general's job is to be a champion of Coloradans' rights, not to search for an excuse to deny them. Coffman and her office were not forced to obstruct gay and lesbian Coloradans' fundamental rights, they chose to. If elected attorney general, I'll make a different choice.

In a busy election season with several high-profile races on the ballot, the race for Attorney General might have become an afterthought has Suthers not blown the contest open. Quick and other Democrats may benefit significantly at the polls as a result.

Aurora Shooting Victim’s Dad Calls Out Mike Coffman

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

​Yesterday marked the second anniversary of the mass shooting at the Century Theater in Aurora, in which 12 people were killed and some 70 injured after a gunman burst into the theater and began shooting indiscriminately. Since that time, the debate over gun policy has raged in Colorado and across the nation, with both sides honoring the victims of gun violence while disagreeing about the solution.

But apparently, as this statement we received from the father of a victim of the Aurora shootings says, some politicians can't even be bothered to commemorate this tragic event only two years later. Tom Sullivan, whose son Alex Sullivan died in the Aurora theater shooting, has this to say about Aurora's representative in Congressman Mike Coffman:

One day before the two-year anniversary of the Aurora theater shooting – in which 12 people were killed and 58 were wounded – Representative Mike Coffman came back to Aurora to hold meetings with constituents.  But Rep. Coffman has not yet taken action to honor the victims of the Aurora shooting and keep guns out of dangerous hands. Tom Sullivan, the father of Aurora victim Alex Sullivan, released the following statement:

"Two years ago my son Alex was killed.  He wasn't in the wrong place at the wrong time – he was at the movies to celebrate his birthday.

"I'm disappointed to see Rep. Coffman come back to Aurora the day before the anniversary, but not honor the tragedy with action.  He has not yet supported federal legislation that would do what we've already done here in Colorado – close the loophole that allows criminals and other dangerous people to buy guns without a background check.  We know this solution works because since the law went into effect last year, dangerous people are already being blocked from buying guns. 

"I hope Rep. Coffman does the right thing and honors the victims of that horrible tragedy with action in Washington, not more partisan excuses."

According to Coffman's Facebook page, he attended the Dragon Boat Festival at Sloan's Lake in west Denver on Saturday, as well as constituent meetings at MLK Library in Aurora. But in addition to Sullivan's point about Coffman having taken no action in Washington on gun safety as Aurora's representative, we can't find anything from Coffman acknowledging the 2nd anniversary of the Aurora shooting at all. There were several events this weekend, including a tree-planting event at Aurora's new Hope Park attended by Gov. John Hickenlooper, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, and Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan–but Coffman wasn't listed as a guest. We haven't seen anything on Coffman's campaign or congressional websites, campaign or official Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, or anywhere else to indicate he commemorated the shooting anniversary in any way.

If Coffman did do anything to observe the most tragic event suffered by his district in many, many years, he apparently didn't want anybody to know about it. And we don't have a good explanation for that.

WSJ: Gardner Pinned By “Personhood”

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

An excellent story from the Wall Street Journal's Beth Reinhard today explains in depth to a national audience the ongoing problem faced by GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner we've been talking about for months–his halfway flip-flop away from longstanding prior support for the "Personhood" abortion ban initiatives that have failed repeatedly on the Colorado statewide ballot. In addition, Gardner faces growing questions about his continued sponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act, which contains matching language from the Personhood abortion bans that would also outlaw common forms of birth control. Today's WSJ story is behind a paywall, so here's a teaser–go subscribe, or find a friend with a subscription to read the whole thing:

Rep. Cory Gardner, the Republican candidate for a Senate seat in Colorado, is trying to move away from the thorny issue of "personhood."

His problem is that neither his foes on the left nor some friends on the right will let him.

Shortly after entering the race against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in February, Mr. Gardner disavowed his past support for the idea at the heart of the personhood movement, which is to give a fertilized egg the same rights as a person, thereby outlawing abortion and some forms of birth control. In backing away, he even called for the sale of birth control over the counter…

"Cory Gardner is a big disappointment, since he was firmly on our side, and now he's throwing that away for greater political aspirations," said Jennifer Mason, a spokeswoman for Personhood USA, the lead sponsor of the ballot question. [Pols emphasis]

Mr. Gardner has said he changed his mind because Colorado voters twice rejected constitutional amendments on the issue, in 2008 and 2010. He also said he hadn't realized that access to birth control could have been affected. Mr. Gardner is listed as a co-sponsor of a House bill that says life begins at conception.

As we discussed last Wednesday, Gardner's continued sponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act, while claiming to have disavowed Colorado's Personhood abortion bans, creates a major conflict. Both the Personhood abortion ban amendments and the Life at Conception Act contain the same language about human life beginning "at the moment of fertilization." This language is what would have the consequence, either intended or not, of outlawing so-called "abortifacient" forms of birth control. Denver Post reporter Mark Matthews asked Gardner's campaign about this apparent contradiction, and was told by Gardner spokesman Alex Siciliano that the federal abortion ban bill would make "no change to contraception laws as Senator Udall falsely alleges."

But that's not true. It's the same language. At some point, this false distinction is going to burn Gardner's campaign yet again.

In the meantime, as the WSJ makes clear, Gardner still has a big problem. Even the most GOP-friendly polling in this race shows that this issue has already given Gardner's opponent Sen. Mark Udall a commanding lead with women voters. On the other side, the pro-life right wing is equally upset with Gardner's "pandering" to the left by backing off of what was previously a no-compromise stand against abortion under any circumstances.

Bottom line: there's a very simple reason why Gardner and his campaign affects exasperation with having to answer questions about banning abortion over and over, wondering aloud why reporters can't come up with "something else to talk about."

Like Ken Buck before him, this could be the issue that sinks Cory Gardner.

Monday Open Thread

"The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face."

–William Makepeace Thackeray

Making a Joke of the IRS “Scandal”

WCSLogo

As reported by the UK Daily Mail's U.S. political editor David Martsoko from the Western Conservative Summit this weekend in Denver–apparently, Centennial Institute director and WCS organizer John Andrews has found a slick way around his group's pesky 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity status, which ordinarily would not allow the WCS to talk about political candidates and the upcoming 2014 elections:

'Sirloin' and 'tofu' have become code words for 'Republican' and 'Democrat' in Colorado, and a former right-wing state legislator assigned liberals the role of pressed bean curd during a conservative convention in Denver.

John Andrews, president of the Colorado state Senate until 2005 and now Director of the Centennial Institute – an affiliate of Colorado Christian College – told a crowd estimated at 3,000 that speakers at the three-day session would not be permitted to talk about candidates, parties or elections…

'You have probably noticed that as we brought out Bob Beauprez and Cory Gardner, that something was missing,' he said. 'Something was not said about them or by them about how they're spending 2014.'

'I can give you the reason why in two words: Lois Lerner.'

'…So let's just make this agreement … If you form a mental association between "Republican" and "sirloin," and between "Democrat" and "tofu," and I was to say to you that every time I whiff Bob Beauprez or Cory Gardner it makes me wanna eat more sirloin and less tofu, you would know what I was talking about, right?' [Pols emphasis]

Note how Andrews invoked Lois Lerner, the former IRS official vilified by the right as part of the scandal over conservative-leaning groups "singled out" for scrutiny of their tax-exempt status applications. The truth of that story is not nearly so simple, or in the end controversial–many left-leaning organizations faced the same level of scrutiny as conservative ones. Nonetheless, it's become a part of the vast body of anti-Obama mythology accepted on faith by the conservative base today.

But never mind all that, because John Andrews just made a joke of the whole thing! It's tough to imagine a better way to justify IRS scrutiny than to start your 501(c)(3) "nonprofit" convention by explaining the event's partisan political code language. Might the IRS decide that's too ridiculous a pretense to ignore? Would Andrews still claim he's being persecuted if the IRS asks for a little clarification?

Hopefully. And probably.