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Joe Manchin. Roll Call photo

WVa's Joe Manchin -- who took a tough nay vote on don't-ask-don't-tell a couple weeks ago -- skipped the latest vote on the gay military measure and an immigration reform bill on Saturday. Even Ron Wyden -- who's having cancer surgery today -- made the vote, eye-rolling Republicans noted.

Here's Politico:

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin's decision to skip two key controversial votes on the DREAM Act and the Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal Saturday handed Republicans an easy opportunity to begin framing him as a cowardly politician without a core.

Manchin, who has been a senator for just over a month, missed the votes due to a family Christmas party -- a commitment, his spokeswoman explained, "he could just not break."

To be fair, his office put out a pair of press releases saying he opposed both pieces of legislation.  But failing to show up on the Senate floor for such a highly visible vote because of a party is not likely an explanation that will satisfy critics in either party.

Here's more from Roll Call.

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