[Update:  CNN is now confirming the story linked below the fold:  President Bush will be addressing the nation at 9 p.m. eastern time tonight.]

These fetid stories of interconnections, under-the-table dealings, and typical Republican backscratching are getting worse and worse, and it’s happening literally by the hour.

Michael Shear at the Washington Post has dug up something rather interesting this morning.  Those payments (Autumn gave us the original breaking story last night) from Freddie Mac to McCain campaign manager Rick Davis’ lobbying group?  Turns out they were still be received a lot more recently than they’d have liked us to believe.

An industry source told The Washington Post that Davis’s firm, Davis Manafort, continued to receive monthly payments in the $15,000 range from Freddie Mac until very recently, confirming an ongoing financial relationship reported last night in several other publications.

The source said Davis Manafort was paid for being on retainer to Freddie Mac but did little actual work after early 2007.

Two unidentified sources told the newspaper Roll Call yesterday that Davis Manafort is still receiving payments from the mortgage giant, one of the financial institutions at the center of the nation’s housing crisis. The New York Times reported last night that the payments stopped last month.

Call me cynical, but does anyone else find it slightly questionable that the campaign manager of a major political party candidate was being kept “on retainer” for a company that is at the very pinnacle of the American financial crisis?  And, by the way, he tried to give us reason to believe that this wasn’t the case–by telling us that he wasn’t actually “working with” Freddie Mac after early 2007.  Now we know he was just being paid by them.  That makes it so much better.

But it doesn’t stop there …Mr. Davis tries to explain that all of this doesn’t matter, but Mr. Shear will have none of it and calls a spade exactly what it is.

“I have had a severed leave of absence from my firm for 18 months,” he said Monday. “I have taken no compensation from my company, and our work for the Homeownership Alliance had ended about a year, year-and-a-half before that even started. So it’s been over three years since there’s been any activity in this area and since I’ve had any contact with those folks.”

Davis has suspended his salary from Davis Manafort, but, as an equity partner in the firm, he continues to have an financial stake in its success.

Right on cue, as though he were offering the punchline to a very unfunny joke, Sen. McCain met with Mittens this morning, along with several prominent CEO’s and business executives.

McCain said he wanted to discuss “how we can make sure that the American people regain confidence on Main Street so that they can regain their confidence in Wall Street and in Washington.”

McCain renewed his insistence that the bailout deal have greater transparency, oversight and CEO accountability to make it acceptable to voters.

“Most Americans feel very strongly this isn’t their fault. It’s Wall Street and Washington and the cozy insider relationships that have caused a great part of the problems,” he said.

You can’t make this shit up.  Seriously.

And dare any Republican speak of too-cozy business relationships!  It turns out that the administration’s $700 billion bailout is a giveaway too.  The BBC gives us this bombshell from yesterday’s congressional testimony from Sec. Paulson and Chairman Bernanke.

BBC Business Editor Robert Peston said the US Treasury Secretary’s proposal to buy bad mortgage debts from banks represented “the mother of all bail-outs”.

He said that during the hearing Fed chairman Mr Bernanke disclosed that the Treasury would attempt to buy these debts from banks at close to their “hold-to-maturity” value, not the market value.

“In practice, it means banks who sell their debts to the Treasury would receive cash equivalent to something like twice the value in their books of these poisonous assets,” our correspondent said.

“In other words they would book a profit from selling to taxpayers.”

There you have it.  And now Dear Leader is giving serious thought to addressing the nation in prime-time.  I am, for some reason, not feeling very reassured.