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FROM THIS EPISODE

As the lame-duck Congress lurches along, what are the signals for next year when Republicans will take over the House?  Is President Obama changing his strategy to deal with new political realities and prepare his campaign for re-election? Also, a $7 billion settlement for the victims of Bernard Madoff, and a gift that keeps on giving: gold, dispensed by a new ATM machine in Boca Raton, Florida.

Banner imge: President Barack Obama talks with Congressman Eric Cantor, (R-VA), at the conclusion of a meeting with bipartisan Congressional leadership in the Oval Office Private Dining Room, November 30, 2010. Listening at right are Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and Harry Reid (D-NV). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stands outside. Official White House photo: Pete Souza

Producers:
Darrell Satzman
Sonya Geis
Frances Anderton

Reporter's Notebook Gold Replaces Greenbacks in Boca Raton ATM Machine 6 MIN, 33 SEC

For high rollers in Boca Raton, Florida, there's a new way to pick up gold. It's the Gold-to-Go vending machine like the one in the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. Made by the German company Ex Oriente Lux, shoppers insert cash or credit cards and use the touch-screen to choose coins or gold bars of appropriate weights. At current prices, a gram is about the size of a fingernail, an ounce slightly larger than a quarter. Your choice is dispensed in a black box with a tamper-proof seal. That makes for an interesting Christmas gift at a time when many people think gold is more valuable than paper money. Ken Vogel of Politico picks up the story.

Guests:
Ken Vogel, Politico.com (@kenvogel)

Making News $7 Billion Settlement for Madoff's Victims 7 MIN, 46 SEC

Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme defrauded investors of some $20 billion, and a trustee for the victims wants to recover $32 billion, including punitive damages. Today, Preet Bharara, the US Attorney in New York, announced a $7 billion settlement with the widow of Madoff investor Jeffrey Picower. Diana Henriques is senior financial writer for the New York Times.

Guests:
Diana Henriques, Senior Financial Writer, New York Times

Main Topic Chaos Continues on Capitol Hill 36 MIN, 39 SEC

The lame-duck session of Congress is hard to keep track of. Today's sure thing is old news by tomorrow, and nobody knows how long it's going to go on. The tax bill and the omnibus spending package were dealt with last night, but what about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the DREAM Act and the START Treaty? Is Barack Obama "triangulating" with Democrats and Republicans, just like Bill Clinton? Is he abandoning principles or finally getting real? What are the prospects for next year when Republicans will take over the House?  Will it be time to get down to business or the start of the next campaign?

Guests:
John Cranford, National Editor, Congressional Quarterly
William Galston, Brookings Institution
Bradley Blakeman, Georgetown University
Ken Warren, St. Louis University

Tears of a Clown

Dana Milbank

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