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June 20, 2014

Let's recap Dick Cheney's dive into the national conversation on the growing violence in Iraq: On Tuesday night, the former vice president and his daughter Liz produced a Wall Street Journal op-ed criticizing President Obama on the situation ("Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong...."). On Wednesday night, Fox News star Megyn Kelly threw everyone off guard by strongly suggesting to Cheney that he was the one who got it wrong on Iraq. On Thursday night, Stephen Colbert took his turn hitting the Cheney piñata.

Cheney is merely the leader of the newly reunited "Iraq Pack," Colbert said. By the nickname Colbert assigned him, "Ol' Dead Eyes," Cheney is apparently Sinatra, which would make George W. Bush the Dean Martin and John McCain the Sammy Davis Jr.? Maybe John Bolton is Steve Lawrence and Paul Wolfowitz his Eydie Gorme?

Lots of people have mocked Cheney's chutzpah; only Colbert suggests invading his "balls of mass destruction." --Peter Weber

4:20 a.m. ET

On Tuesday's Late Show, Stephen Colbert sighed over the news that the State Department will release 15,000 new Hillary Clinton emails before the November election. "That is ridiculous," he said. "I have thousands of unread emails on my own inbox, and now I have to read 15,000 of hers?" The new batch of Clinton emails center around her "ties to donors at what's called the Clinton Foundation," he explained, "which is a charity set up to distribute aid around the world and, just as importantly, to keep Bill Clinton busy enough that he doesn't spend all day trying to get the Secret Service to go to Hooters with him."

"But with all the questions surrounding all of these emails, it's hard to tell what's really a thing and what's nothing at all," Colbert said. To figure it out, he brought out a Late Show "Thing-O-Meter." Some emails — like Bono/NASA — were not a thing but merited a U2 joke, while the fact that Bill Clinton appears to think the Clinton Foundation ties are a thing is a real thing in itself. Colbert ended up with a quip about bald men with ponytails, and you can see if that's really a thing below. Peter Weber

3:56 a.m. ET

Washington, D.C., may be a simmering stew of political dysfunction now, but 202 years ago, President James Madison couldn't even round up enough men to fend of a few thousand British troops and save the capital from destruction. On Aug. 24, 1814, British Rear Admiral George Cockburn marched a group of some 4,500 troops on Washington; they easily defeated a larger group of U.S. militiamen and Army regulars in Bladensburg, Maryland, and entered the capital at sunset.

The British torched the White House — after first consuming President Madison's food and wine — and the Capitol, which housed both chambers of Congress, the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court. The next day, Cockburn's men burned down the Treasury building and State, War, and Navy Department headquarters. You can read some of the embarrassing details in Jesse Greenspan's account at The History Channel, including who Secretary of State James Monroe's reconnaissance expedition forgot a spyglass and how Madison, carrying a borrowed pistol, almost accidentally rode into British lines.

But before you get too down on Madison's Washington, though, Aug. 24 is not a terribly lucky date, as The Associated Press reminds us in the video below — Mr. Vesuvius buried Pompeii, Hurricane Andrew pummeled Florida, Pluto was demoted, and Pete Rose banned from baseball. Peter Weber

3:04 a.m. ET

On Tuesday's Late Night, Seth Meyers gave his "closer look" treatment to Hillary Clinton's never-ending email controversy — but he began with Donald Trump, and a focus group of former Trump supporters who had very little good to say about their former candidate (plus a chuckle over Trump's 12-year-old county campaign organizer). Candy digested, Meyers turned to the meat and potatoes — or, rather, the 15,000 new Clinton emails the FBI is releasing before the election. "How many emails does Hillary Clinton have that she can just miss 15,000?" Meyers asked.

He spent the rest of the segment on a recently released batch of Clinton emails focusing on ties between her State Department and the Clinton Foundation. "Words like 'favor' and 'take care of' shouldn't be in State Department emails, they should be in the last 5 minutes of a Sopranos episode," Meyers said of one exchange. "But by far, the best email uncovered in this latest batch was one with the subject line 'Bono/NASA,'" a subject line so great that "if you want someone to open an email with a virus, that's what you put."

"While there aren't any smoking guns in these emails," Meyers concluded, "they do seem to demonstrate at the very least that if you were a Clinton Foundation donor or friend or Bono, it was easier to at least get your request seen by someone at the State Department — even if it ended up going nowhere." In any other year, this would be big news, he said. Clinton just got lucky she's up against Trump. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:25 a.m. ET

At least 85 people who donated a combined $156 million to Clinton Foundation charities met or spoke on the phone with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state, according to an Associated Press review of State Department calendars. That's more than half of the 154 people from private interests AP found, and 20 of the 85 people donated or pledged more than $1 million to the Clinton Foundation or its international aid programs.

The meetings "do not appear to violate legal agreements Clinton and former president Bill Clinton signed before she joined the State Department in 2009," AP says. "But the frequency of the overlaps shows the intermingling of access and donations, and fuels perceptions that giving the foundation money was a price of admission for face time with Clinton." AP also found no evidence that these meetings influenced State Department policy — what Donald Trump calls "pay to play."

AP focused its report on Nobel Prize-winning economist Muhammad Yunus, whose U.S. branches of his nonprofit "microfinance" Grameen banks gave $125,000-$300,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative and whom Clinton met with three times as Bangladesh's government worked to oust him from his bank's board; Blackstone Group chairman Stephen Schwarzman, a GOP donor whose company has given heavily to the Clinton Foundation, whom the State Department assisted with a visa issue a day after he met Clinton at a breakfast luncheon; Nancy Mahon of MAC AIDS, the charitable arm of Estee Lauder's MAC Cosmetics, which partnered with the State Department for a project in South Africa; and S. Daniel Abraham, a Clinton fundraiser who founded the Center for Middle East Peace and met with Clinton eight times. AP's Stephen Braun explains what his team found and didn't find:

At a rally in Austin on Tuesday night, Trump cited the report, saying it "is impossible to figure out where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins. It is now abundantly clear that the Clintons set up a business to profit from public office." Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon accused AP of "outrageous" cherry picking, calling the report "a distorted portrayal of how often she crossed paths with individuals connected to charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation." Peter Weber

2:09 a.m. ET

And then there was one.

In two weeks, the Howard Johnson restaurant in Bangor, Maine, will close its doors, leaving just one HoJo restaurant left in the entire U.S., in Lake George, New York. The eateries, founded in 1925 by Howard Deering Johnson, once dotted the landscape, and predated the hotels of the same name.

The first restaurant started as a soda fountain outside of Boston, and the restaurants that followed featured comfort foods, fried clam strips, and dozens of flavors of ice cream. Sally Patel, the owner of the Bangor restaurant, said she kept it going for several years despite business being "very slow," and its closing will not affect the attached hotel. Catherine Garcia

1:47 a.m. ET

For the first time in 14 years, Abu Zubaydah was seen on Tuesday by members of the public who are not part of his legal team.

Zubaydah, 45, was captured in Pakistan in 2002, and has been at Guantanamo Bay ever since. Born in Saudi Arabia to a family of Palestinian heritage, he was in Afghanistan in the early 1990s, serving as a facilitator for militants. When he was first taken into American custody, intelligence officers wrongly concluded he was one of the top leaders of al Qaeda. The FBI was able to get information from him about one of the Sept. 11 planners and other al Qaeda members, but because the CIA believed he was high up in the terrorist organization, they thought he was withholding information. Despite objections from the FBI, he was waterboarded 83 times (Zubaydah was the first detainee to undergo waterboarding). He was also sleep deprived, thrown against a wall, and confined to a small cramped box, The New York Times reports.

On Tuesday, Zubaydah appeared via satellite at a hearing before the Periodic Review Board, a group of representatives from six security agencies who decide if a prisoner is too dangerous to be released. He is one of a few dozen Guantanamo Bay detainees being held without charges but deemed a risk to the public. In a statement read for him by a representative, he said he should be freed because he has "no desire or intent to harm the United States or any other country." He said he wants to be back with his family and has "some seed money that could be used to start a business." The Defense Department asserts that Zubaydah "probably retains an extremist mindset." The board will announce in about a month if Zubaydah will stay imprisoned or transferred to another country. His lawyer, Joseph Margulies, told the Times Zubaydah was never in al Qaeda, but is the "poster child for the torture program, and that's why they never want him to be heard from again." Catherine Garcia

12:48 a.m. ET

They can flip, tumble, leap, and cartwheel, but can they act like hungry, hungry hippos?

On Tuesday's Tonight Show, the gold medal-winning Final Five — American gymnasts Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian, and Aly Raisman — joined host Jimmy Fallon, Atlanta's Donald Glover, and Tariq Trotter of The Roots to play a live action version of the classic game. In Hungry Hungry Humans, the players split into teams to try to grab as many balls as possible, and since we're dealing with some of the finest athletes in the world, things got competitive, fast. Watch the video below to see who went home with the gold, silver, and bronze, and who left empty-handed. Catherine Garcia

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