First, the story from CNN:

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday questioned what was behind the government’s decision to dramatically reduce the proposed size of a nationwide stop-smoking program, one of the penalties recommended in a racketeering suit against cigarette makers.

The government asked U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler on Tuesday to require the companies to fund a five-year, $10 billion program, a fraction of the 25-year, $130 billion program suggested by government witness Michael C. Fiore, a University of Wisconsin medical professor.

The Justice Department called the $10 billion program an “initial request” that could be expanded. But Kessler said Wednesday: “There may be some additional influences being brought to bear” on the government’s decision.

And who asked for this 1300 % reduction to be investigated?

Democratic lawmakers sent letters on Wednesday to Glenn A. Fine, the Justice Department’s inspector general, asking him to look into what prompted the reduction in the request.

“The Justice Department’s approach to tobacco litigation should be based on the facts of the case and not political favors to the tobacco industry,” wrote Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Martin Meehan of Massachusetts.

A group of senators — including Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, and Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts — asked Fine “to determine whether improper interference by political appointees led to a reversal of the position advocated by the career professionals working on the case.

Wonder who could possibly be interfering on behalf of the tobacco companies?  Could it be — Republicans?

Let’s see.  Forty million over 15 years contributed in the GOP gets you a savings of $120 billion!  Now that’s what I call a good investment.

Curse you Democrats!  

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