Senator Coburn's Remark Makes Headlines

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Cry for Help

There was a substantial amount of media coverage of Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn's remark Sunday that the American people should pray for a senator to miss the early morning health care vote.

A Huffington Post headline read "Robert Byrd's Death Seemingly Wished for by Tom Coburn," implying Coburn wanted some ill fortune to befall the ailing lawmaker to prevent him from voting; a charge Coburn's office resoundingly denies.

But little coverage was given to a Senate floor speech by Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse Sunday afternoon, in which he blasts Republicans for trying to delay a health care bill, saying their supporters are hysterical that Barack Obama is president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE, D-R.I.: The birthers, the fanatics, the people running around in right-wing militias and Aryan support groups, it is unbearable to them that President Barack Obama should exist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

A Washington Times reporter questioned Whitehouse after the speech to clarify whether the senator was characterizing everyone who was against the health care bill as racist by using the word "Aryan". The reporter says the senator responded by saying he didn't say that, and to pay attention to the speech.

We report, you decide.

Give and Take

One Florida Democratic congressman apparently can dish it out, but can't take it. Alan Grayson made headlines earlier this year for saying the Republican health care plan was "die quickly." He also called a female lobbyist a "K Street whore" and likened the health care crisis to a holocaust.

Grayson has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate and prosecute Angie Langley, creator of the Web site MyCongressmanIsNuts.com, which is trying to thwart Grayson's re-election bid. Grayson accuses Langley of misrepresenting herself as a constituent, because she does not live within his district. He asks that she be fined and imprisoned for five years.

E-mail Glitch

PBS ombudsman Michael Getler has acknowledged the "PBS NewsHour" did not sufficiently cover the Climate-gate e-mail controversy.

Responding to a critical letter, Getler writes, "The 'NewsHour' has not done a good job on this latest development concerning the unauthorized but fascinating release by computer hackers... The 'NewsHour' has touched on it briefly four times, as far as I can tell... but very lightly and well after the fact."

Sympathy Vote

And finally, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's approval rating has gotten a boost following last week's attack that left him bandaged and bloodied. The poll shows his popularity at almost 56 percent, compared to 48-point-six percent in mid-November.

Berlusconi sustained a fractured nose and broken teeth after being hit by a statuette thrown by a mentally disturbed man.

Fox News Channel's Lanna Britt contributed to this report.

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