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Special Report

Calls for Congressional Hearings on Lending Scandal Met with Silence on Capitol Hill

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Housing Hullabaloo

We have a follow-up on Monday's report that Texas Republican Congressman Jeb Hensarling has called for Congressional hearings in the wake of reports that at least two Democratic Senators received discount mortgage deals from Countrywide Financial Corporation.

Banking committee chairman Chris Dodd — whose panel oversees the mortgage industry — and North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad reportedly received preferential treatment from Countrywide.

But, The Politico newspaper reports Hensarling's call for an investigation has been greeted with silence on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers apparently are reluctant to push forward with a probe because they do not know where it may lead.

One Senate GOP aide says, "You don't see many people jumping on this, because you don't know if anyone else is dirty."

Today, Dodd denied any wrongdoing, saying that the rates he received were in the range of rates being offered at the time. He says he spoke with no "higher ups" at Countrywide, adding there was no red flag that he was getting any special treatment.

Frugal Facts?

Barack Obama says his health care plan will save $120 billion a year, or $25,000 per family. He says those savings will become a reality in his first term through the use, in part, of electronic health records.

Obama often cites a Rand Corporation study that found widespread use of electronic records could save up to $77 billion a year. But FactCheck.Org reports Obama does not reveal that the same study says that level of savings cannot be reached until 2019 — three years after the end of a hypothetical Obama second term.

And, that Rand report was even criticized by the Congressional Budget Office for its overly-optimistic and best-case scenario findings.

Ballot Bandits

Virginia Democratic Governor Tim Kaine is teaming up with groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP to try to add thousands of nonviolent offenders to voting rolls in time for the November election. Under Virginia's constitution, people convicted of a felony lose their right to vote for life. But the governor can restore those rights if the felon has a clean record for three years.

The Washington Post reports some Republicans say the drive is an improper effort to recruit more Obama voters in the key battleground state.

One Republican delegate says, "I don't know a lot of young Republicans who end up being felons... I am sure this registration effort is designed to help their candidate."

An Obama spokeswoman says there is no organized effort to target ex-offenders.

Into the Fire

And finally, for the second time this spring, Cindy McCain, wife of Republican presidential candidate John McCain, is being accused of passing off someone else's recipe as her own. The campaign contributed a recipe to Parents Magazine for her oatmeal butterscotch cookies.

However, it appears the recipe was copied from the Hershey's Web site. The ingredients and amounts are virtually the same, except McCain’s recipe calls for an unspecified brand of butterscotch chips, while the Hershey recipe calls specifically for Hershey's butterscotch chips.

In April, the McCain campaign was caught copying some recipes from the Food Network Web site and passing them off as Cindy McCain's. Officials blamed that mistake on an intern.

FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.