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Unhappy anniversary

40 years after Watergate hearings, feds keep on snooping

Friday marks the 40th anniversary of the Watergate hearings, an occasion PBS is tastefully, interactively and  shamelessly using to promote PBS.

Meanwhile, in Raleigh, the North Carolina Museum of History is opening a 40th anniversary exhibit highlighting the role of the famously folksy-yet-firm Tar Heel Sam Ervin, who presided over the Senate's proceedings with reassuring aplomb.

Nostalgia for that pre-CSPAN extravaganza, with its see-it-now atmospherics, indelible cast of old white guys in groovy ties and occasional glam guest stars like Maureen Dean, is being diminished, alas, by the latest reminders of government gone wild.

Turns out that at least some offices and administrators in the Internal Revenue Service have over-zealously scrutinized certain applications for tax-exempt status due to the real or imagined political views of the applicants (patriots and tea partiers need not apply).

And the Department of Justice has surreptitiously obtained, from telephone service providers, records of hundreds of calls made on lines used by the Associated Press, putting a new spin on the black-and-white movie phrase "honey, get me rewrite."

Could it be that Barack Obama has stopped channelling George W. so he can emulate Tricky Dick?

Or perhaps a better question is, what did the President know, and when did he know it?