Checking Out 'Joe the Plumber' Has Gotten One State Official an Unpaid Vacation

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Gimme a Break

We reported Thursday Ohio Democratic Governor Ted Strickland placed the director of his Jobs and Family Services Department on unpaid leave for improper actions during the presidential campaign.

Helen Jones-Kelley ran computer background checks on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, also known as "Joe the Plumber." She also used her state e-mail account to raise money for President-elect Obama.

But the Columbus Dispatch reports some Ohio Republicans say the month-long punishment is not enough. State House Speaker Jon Husted says Jones-Kelley crossed the line and, "She violated the public trust. The governor's lack of firm action here sends a message he is going to be tolerant of a state government that acts in inappropriate ways."

And the state auditor says the governor should ask for Jones-Kelley's resignation or just fire her. Governor Strickland called Jones-Kelley's actions "bad judgment" but said he values her contributions. Strickland insists her punishment is fairly severe, but fair.

Chipping Away

As we told you earlier, Democrat Al Franken has closed the gap even further in his Senate race with incumbent Republican Norm Coleman of Minnesota. Coleman's lead has dwindled from more than 700 the day after the election to just 129. Both candidates have challenged questionable ballots, but the Minnesota Star Tribune has revealed just how dogged the Franken campaign has been.

Franken is challenging the above Plymouth City ballot, although the bubble beside Coleman's name appears to be clearly marked. The Franken campaign wants the State Canvassing Board to rule on whether it should count.

The board will meet December 16 to rule on such challenges, and if this is an example, there could be many, many more.

Cold Truth

Wesley Pruden of the Washington Times says former vice president and climate change activist Al Gore may need an extra blanket.

In a piece entitled The Killer Frost for Global Warming, Pruden writes that although winter has barely arrived, "The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration —NOAA — reports 63 record snowfalls in the United States, 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month. Only 44 Octobers over the past 114 years have been cooler than this last one."

He also points to the fact that many experts now concede the earth has not warmed since 1995, adding, "Even the United Nations says so. The director of the U.N.'s Panel on Cimate Change concedes that nature has overwhelmed everything man can do."

He also says Gore no longer warns of global warming but decries climate change instead. "On average, 'climate change' covers every possibility."

Weighty Decision

The Canadian Supreme Court had a big ruling this week: Canadian airlines can no longer charge obese people for an extra ticket when they are so big that they need an additional seat.

The court ruled that obese people have the right to two seats for the price of one on domestic flights.

The court also declined to hear an appeal by a number of Canadian airlines based on the mandate by Canada's Transportation Agency to enforce the one-person-one-fare policy. The airlines also lost a lower court appeal in May.

FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.

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