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April 29, 2014
CC by: Texas State Library

In lots of ways, Texas has been a huge success story under the watch of Gov. Rick Perry (R). Perry has gotten some sharp elbows for his job-poaching tours of other states, but on Monday Toyota announced it is moving its U.S. headquarters to Plano, outside Dallas, from the Los Angeles suburbs. It isn't the first company to leave California, or another state, for Texas. The Lone Star State added 1.3 million residents from 2010 to 2013, according to U.S. Census data. That's more than any other state.

Perry, the state's Republican-dominated legislature, and many analysts attribute this growth and low unemployment rate to the combination of low taxes, lax regulation, few public services, and tracking-related gas boom. What's indisputable is that most of the people are headed to Texas' already sizable cities: Houston (pop. 2.2 million) added 34,625 people from July 2011 to July 2012, while Austin (pop. 843,000) expanded by 25,395 residents. Austin, which still thinks of itself as a funky college town, is now the 11th largest city in the U.S., adding about 100 new people each day. Here's what Texas' growth looks like in graph form, via The Wall Street Journal:

But the Texas system, like every other governing philosophy in the world, has weak points, and the two big ones in the Lone Star State are water and transportation infrastructure. Texas is in a multi-year drought, and the population growth is putting a further strain on water resources. And then there's the aging and inadequate roads and public transportation: Texans, like many Americans, really like their cars and don't particularly like traffic. Austin has the fourth worst traffic in the U.S.

There are other growing pains, too. "We are already straining our systems for water, power, schools, and roads," Texas State Demographer Lloyd Potter, a Perry appointee, tells The Wall Street Journal. "And they'll continue to be stressed unless we invest more heavily."

Most of the problems are fixable with money, but Texans — most lawmakers and residents — don't want to raise the money to fix them. There's no state income tax in Texas, so all those poached jobs add money to the state coffers only indirectly, through things like sales and property taxes and service fees. Instead of raising taxes to build new roads, Texas lawmakers prefer to let private companies build an incompatible array of toll highways.

The problems aren't going away. By 2040, demographers predict that Texas will have 40 million residents, from more than 26 million today. If the water becomes scarce and roads semi-permanent parking lots, that prediction probably won't come to fruition. Peter Weber

4:03 p.m. ET

President Donald Trump's inaugural address about "American carnage" and "America first" apparently went over swimmingly with America's citizens. A Gallup poll released Monday revealed that 53 percent of Americans who watched or read about Trump's inaugural address Friday rated it as "excellent" or "good." Just 20 percent said the president's speech was "poor" or terrible."

However, Trump's ratings lag behind those of former President Barack Obama's addresses in both 2013 and 2009, and of former President George W. Bush's in 2005. Sixty-five percent gave Obama's address an "excellent" or "good" in 2013, and 81 percent did in 2009; Bush's address in 2005 got a positive rating from 62 percent.

Still, Trump's address did make Americans somewhat more optimistic about the future, Gallup found. While 30 percent reported feeling "less hopeful" after listening to Trump speak, 39 percent reported feeling "more hopeful." Another 30 percent said his address had made "no difference" at all.

The poll surveyed 508 adults from across all 50 states immediately after Trump's inaugural address on Jan. 20. Its margin of error is plus or minus 5 percentage points. Becca Stanek

4:02 p.m. ET

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer really, really, really, really does not like Dippin' Dots.

But Dippin' Dots just wants to be loved. The confection company sent an open letter to Spicer on Monday looking to become "friends rather than foes":

We understand that ice cream is a serious matter. And running out of your favorite flavor can feel like a national emergency! We’ve seen your tweets and would like to be friends rather than foes. After all, we believe in connecting the dots.

As you may or may not know, Dippin' Dots are made in Kentucky by hundreds of hard working Americans in the heartland of our great country. As a company, we're doing great. We've enjoyed double-digit growth in sales for the past three years. That means we're creating jobs and opportunities. We hear that's on your agenda too.

We can even afford to treat the White House and press corps to an ice cream social. What do you say? We'll make sure there's plenty of all your favorite flavors. [Dippin' Dots]

Someone should get Vice President Mike Pence's take on all of this. Jeva Lange

3:45 p.m. ET

Eric Trump has replaced his father, President Donald Trump, as the head of Trump International Hotels Management LLC, Florida public records show. CNN confirms with documents provided by the Trump Organization that Trump resigned from more than 400 entities on Jan. 19, one day before he was sworn into office.

Trump will still receive reports that detail the profits of the Trump Organization, but he will not speak to his adult sons — Eric and Don Jr., who will lead the company — about the business. "Company records will be updated with the various states in the ordinary course as and when required by law," Trump Organization General Counsel Alan Garten said in a statement.

Prior to the announcement, a group of constitutional scholars and ethics lawyers had planned to file a lawsuit Monday accusing President Trump of violating the U.S. Constitution by letting his hotels and other businesses take payments from foreign governments. Jeva Lange

3:09 p.m. ET

On Saturday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer declared the audience at President Trump's inauguration "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," slamming the media for reporting photos that showed a noticeably sparser crowd at Trump's ceremony Friday than appeared at former President Obama's first inauguration. Spicer also claimed — in contradiction with official data from the Washington, D.C., Metro system — that more people rode the Metro for Trump's swearing-in than for Obama's.

But on Monday, when pressed by ABC News' Jonathan Karl on his claims absent evidence, Spicer assured the American people that "our intention is never to lie to you." "Yes, I believe we have to be honest with the American people. I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts," Spicer said, when Karl asked if he would always "tell the truth from that podium." When Karl asked Spicer if he'd like to issue any corrections to his Saturday statements, Spicer resisted: "I came out to read a statement," he said of Saturday's press conference, "and I did."

Spicer then pointed out that the media makes mistakes "all the time." If anyone should be apologizing for falsehoods, Spicer suggested, it's the reporter who mistakenly reported that the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office. The Daily Beast's Olivia Nuzzi pointed out the reporter had in fact apologized — and that Spicer had acknowledged that apology:

After his vow to tell the truth, Spicer proceeded to double-down on his claim that Trump's inaugural address was the "most-watched ever," both "in person and around the globe." Watch the entire exchange below. Becca Stanek

2:07 p.m. ET

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer slammed Democrats for delaying the confirmations of President Trump's Cabinet nominees at his first official White House press conference Monday. "It's time for Senate Democrats to stop playing political games with the core functions of government, and to allow President Trump's unquestionably qualified and talented group of Cabinet nominees to get to work on behalf of the American people," Spicer said.

Spicer pointed out that former President Obama in 2009 had "seven of his nominees confirmed on day one." "As it stands today," Spicer said, "we have two," noting that Democrats had delayed the confirmation of Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) as CIA director.

Catch Spicer's rebuke below. Becca Stanek

1:26 p.m. ET
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence met his wife, Karen, at church while he was studying in law school; their first date was a dinner of taco salad. "Karen carried a gold cross with the word 'yes' on it in her purse in anticipation of the moment when Mike would propose," Rolling Stone writes. The two have been married since 1985, and have three children together.

But Pence apparently has a somewhat strange way of addressing Karen, Rolling Stone reports:

While Mike Pence was governor, his relationship with the Democratic minority in the legislature was crap. Someone on his staff suggested having the Democratic leaders over to the governor's mansion for dinner. The table was set for 20, but there were only around seven in attendance. One unlucky legislator stuck next to Pence tried to make conversation, but found even at dinner she couldn't shift Pence off his talking points. Gov. Pence shouted to his wife, Karen, his closest adviser, at the other end of the table.

"Mother, Mother, who prepared our meal this evening?"

The legislators looked at one another, speaking with their eyes: He just called his wife "Mother."

Maybe it was a joke, the legislator reasoned. But a few minutes later, Pence shouted again.

"Mother, Mother, whose china are we eating on?"

Mother Pence went on a long discourse about where the china was from. A little later, the legislators stumbled out, wondering what was weirder: Pence's inability to make conversation, or calling his wife "Mother" in the second decade of the 21st century. [Rolling Stone]

Read the full story on Vice President Pence at Rolling Stone. Jeva Lange

1:12 p.m. ET
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is already drawing rebuke from his own Republican Party. Shortly after it was announced Monday that Trump had signed the executive order, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) issued a statement calling Trump's move a "serious mistake."

McCain warned the decision to withdraw from the 12-nation deal would "have lasting consequences for America's economy and our strategic position in the Asia-Pacific region." "This decision will forfeit the opportunity to promote American exports, reduce trade barriers, open new markets, and protect American invention and innovation," McCain wrote, instead advocating for a "positive trade agenda" that will ensure American workers and companies stay "competitive" in the Asia-Pacific region.

Trump insisted Monday that withdrawing from the trade deal was "a great thing for the American worker" — and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) seemed to agree. In a statement Monday, the one-time Democratic presidential candidate and progressive leader lauded Trump's decision, noting that previous trade deals have "cost us millions of decent-paying jobs and caused a 'race to the bottom.'" Becca Stanek

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