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To give you a taste, here's the always-popular Institute Index from this issue:

INSTITUTE INDEX - Negative Energy

Cost of the "Energy Bill" Congress plans to pass this week: $80 billion

Amount inserted by Speaker Tom DeLay, after conference discussion had closed, for an oil project in his district: $1.5 billion

Amount included in bill for "risk insurance" for nuclear power plants: $2 billion

Amount included for a study of "irradiated fuel": $250,000

Number of Congress members who admitted to knowing what this was after they approved the bill in committee: 0

Total subsidies to industry in the bill, mostly to oil, gas, coal and ethanol interests: $11.6 billion

Amount given by energy industry to political campaigns since 2000: $85.5 million

Think Progress has the latest on the $1.5 billion for energy interests in his district that Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) snuck into the bill. Republicans insist there was nothing untoward about the deal, but a dispatch from yesterday's Houston Business Journal reveals that this last-minute piece of pork was no accident:


The final draft of the energy bill expected to be approved this weekend by House and Senate negotiators contains a research funding provision long awaited by a Sugar Land energy consortium...The Sugar Land-based Texas Energy Center has been counting on this source of funding ever since it was established two years ago...In 2003, the consortium was awarded $31 million in state economic development funds, but that funding later evaporated under regulations that stymied the consortium's access to the money. The TEC has been basically on hold since then, waiting and hoping for federal funding to revive its mission.

Also in the latest Facing South newsletter: "From Woolworth to Wal-Mart," Southern Exposure reporter Jordan Green's excellent first-hand account of how the politics of race are playing out in the battle over Wal-Mart in the fast-growing Southern city of Greensboro, N.C. It's a great piece of reporting, and reveals a critical issue that the growing Wal-Mart accountability movement needs to grapple with. (If you don't already get the newsletter, we'll be posting the piece online soon.)