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Tim Pawlenty talks God and creationism in Iowa speech

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: No traction for Pawlenty in CNN poll; Hecker associate faces big tab; Bachmann asked for finance details; landmark Edina restaurant closes; and Williams Wall hits a legal wall.
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Tim Pawlenty is still in Iowa. After his speech last night, Kathie Obradovich of the Des Moines Register blogged about his delicate touch on the topic of bringing religious values to bear on government: “I asked him in an interview about his views on teaching creationism in schools, a topic where faith and government often diverge. He said in Minnesota, they left it up to local school districts to decide whether to include ‘intelligent design’ in the curriculum. Furthermore, he said, schools could decide whether the topic would be dealt with in a science class, or in philosophy or religion. He cited some prominent scientists who don’t rule out God’s guidance in creation, adding that those who believe that aren’t in ‘la-la-land.’ ” But the state will decide how those schools are funded.

Gabriella Schwarz’ story for CNN says: “When addressing his faith, he said his words weren’t those of a ‘politician passing through town,’ because this is a nation ‘founded under God.’ ‘First and foremost we don’t want to be a country that turns away from God, we want to be a country that turns toward God,’ Pawlenty said.” Right. And that would be who’s god, Governor?

CNN also has a new presidential poll out. A couple of noteworthy items: Nine months after first being listed in a poll of GOP presidential aspirants and in the middle of his heaviest (book-related) media exposure, Pawlenty has “slud” (as Dizzy Dean used to say) from 5 percent to 3 percent. Also comparing Barack Obama’s appeal to voters for re-election to Bill Clinton’s at the same time in his presidency, the poll finds Obama with twice as much support, although still a minority among registered voters.

“There’s not a day, a night, a minute that I don’t wish I had left sooner.” That’d be a direct quote from Denny Hecker’s right-hand guy, Steven Leach, who caught a 27-month sentence and an order to repay … $14.2 million. MaryJo Webster’s PiPress story goes on to say: “[Judge Joan] Ericksen said she received 105 letters speaking to Leach’s character, said she read each of them, and that they were relevant to her sentencing decision. ‘It’s very unlikely you would have been in this situation without Mr. Hecker,’ Ericksen said. Judge Ericksen also noted that Leach wasn’t being sentenced for not cooperating, but she made it clear that he possibly could have helped himself had he chosen to cooperate. Once he’s released, Leach will be expected to pay $2,500 per month toward the $14.2 million restitution total.” Uh … wait a minute … got a calculator here … carry the zeroes … that’ll be 473 years and 4 months, Mr. Leach.

In the Strib, Dee DePass reminds her readers that “Leach admitted in September that he had followed Hecker’s orders in 2007, when he told a secretary within the Hecker organization to cut and paste false wording into a Hyundai fleet financing document. The change falsely made it appear as though Hyundai had guaranteed to buy back nearly all of the vehicles in the fleet if Hecker failed to sell them off the dealer lot. Leach faxed the altered document to Hecker in Michigan. Hecker then presented the doctored documents to officials from Chrysler Financial in order to obtain financing for the Hyundai fleet. The fraud resulted in Chrysler Financial lending Hecker and his businesses $80 million and eventually losing $13.8 million. A similar scheme of altered documents was carried out against Chrysler Financial, U.S. Bank and other lenders with regard to loans for several fleets of Suzuki vehicles.”   

A FoxNews story by Steve Brown has the Federal Elections Commission asking Michele Bachmann for a bit more information about where $6 million in contributions came from: “The FEC said clarification was needed pertaining to un-itemized donations. Campaigns are required by law to submit the name and address of anyone giving a candidate for federal office $200 or more. The deadline for response is fast approaching. Nobody in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives raised more campaign cash in a single cycle than Rep. Michele Bachmann. The congresswoman has been a veritable campaign cash register, collecting in excess of $13 million on her way to winning her third term last November. She has also recently disclosed she is considering a bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. Bachmann campaign treasurer Andy Fisher sent Fox an e-mail which suggests small donors may be why such a large bloc of money was not itemized in the FEC reports.”

Tricia Miller, at Roll Call, writes: “The letter from campaign finance analyst Benjamin Holly first asked Bachmann treasurer Andy Parrish to itemize nearly $1.5 million in individual contributions. Holly notes that when a donor gives more than $200 in an election, information about him or her must be included. The FEC also noted that, judging by her first report following the Nov. 2 elections, Bachmann ‘may have failed to file one or more of the required 48-hour notices regarding ‘last minute’ contributions.’ ”

The first thing you’d ask is, “Wow. Where will Grandma and Grandpa go for Easter dinner?” That’s after hearing news that Pearson’s Restaurant, a landmark at 50th and France, has been sold and closed. Paul Walsh of the Strib reports: “The new owners will soon debut the 50th Street Cafe in one part of the property and it will be open during breakfast and lunch, Pearson said. The rest of the space will be leased out later to another restaurant, he said. Pearson said the cafe will still offer some of his family’s signature menu items and keep hints of the decor. No word yet on whether lutefisk will make its annual holiday menu appearance.”

In yet another blow to the Vikings’ (oh so close) Super Bowl chances, an appeals court has refused to block the suspensions of Pat and Kevin Williams for using a diuretic. Abby Simons of the Strib says: “Bumetanide is identified as a masking agent within the NFL’s prohibited substance policy. The Williamses, who are not related, said they were taking the diuretic to lose weight and hit financial incentive goals.” Judging by the looks of Pat, I don’t think the stuff worked too well.