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Helping Henry Help Himself

This House hearing is going a lot better for P & B than Tuesday's Senate flogging.

Paulson, in particular, seems to be acutely aware of how lousy things went at yesterday's Senate banking committee hearing -- and is intent on improving his pitch to regular Americans growing increasingly hostile to the $700 billion Wall St. bailout.

He's getting a little help from the dais, where member after member (Paul Kanjorski, Deborah Pryce, Spencer Bachus) has urged him to scare the wits out of the American people -- so they can comprehend the magnitude of the crisis.

Paulson: "There are a number of things we haven’t communicated clearly enough."

Barney Frank: "There's a lot of that going around, Mr. Secretary."

Still, Paulson gave a largely technical explanation of the terrifying run on money markets last week -- despite Kanjorski's urging him to describe it in "1929" terms.

He does seem more intent on reducing the $700 billion sticker shock.

"The costs will be minimal," Paulson said. "It's not fair to say this is an expenditure because we are buying assets... The risk to the taxpayer while not trivial is much less than the purchase amount."

Dow's down 47.