The beginning of a real race for speaker of the House looks the same as a dud. The proper mix includes one or more popular people who want the job, a high level of dissatisfaction with the person currently in the post, and a level of frustration in the rank and file that is sufficient to overcome every member's natural reluctance to get involved in a political knife fight.

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Going the Distance

Increasing numbers of college students are attending classes, and even completing some degree programs, online — an innovation that could be welcome in an era of rising enrollments and shrinking budgets. But virtual higher ed has its critics, who say the distance learning model will never match what one lawmaker terms the "interpersonal Aristotle style" of education.

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Navigating "Navigable"

Congress is known for having arcane battles, but the biggest fight these days in water law is over a single word in a 1970s-era measure designed to reduce pollution in America's waterways. Texas environmentalists and ranchers are anxiously awaiting the outcome.

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Bob Daemmrich

The Brief: June 7, 2010

Forecasters pegging a looming state budget shortfall at $18 billion don't have Gov. Rick Perry particularly worried.

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