And now some fresh pickings from Special Report's "Political Grapevine."

Like ships in the night

More on a letter from House and Senate Democratic leaders asking President Bush to set up a meeting to discuss the shrinking budget surplus. The White House says that the meeting was scheduled two weeks ago.

But word from Richard Gephardt's office is that Democrats didn't hear about the meeting until Thursday. Gephardt's spokesman, Erik Smith, says, "This is a perfect metaphor for how the White House has dealt with the Democratic leadership, rhetoric first, actions second." White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says that the letters must have crossed in the mail.

Getting a little brotherly love

The brother of Andrea Yates, the mother charged with killing her five children, tells The Dallas Morning News that his sister is doing very well. Quote: "I've never seen her this happy. Even 10 years ago she wasn't this happy. Maybe it's a combination of the environment she's in and the treatment she's finally getting."

Yates' relatives say her condition has improved so much since her arrest on June 20 they now fear she may be found competent to stand trial for capital murder. Yates has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges that she methodically drowned her five children in a bathtub. After the murders, Yates' husband said she suffered from severe postpartum depression and had been treated in a mental hospital.

A little help from his friends

Democratic Senator Ernest Hollings of South Carolina is under fire by Republicans for comments he made to a Greenville newspaper about fellow senator Strom Thurmond. Hollings told The Greenville News on Wednesday that Senator Thurmond, who is 98 years old, is no longer mentally keen and only stays in the Senate because he has nowhere else to go.

Some of Thurmond's fellow Republicans have come to his defense, calling Hollings' remarks mean-spirited and unwarranted. They say the senator is still very sharp. A spokesman for Senator Hollings says that the two senators are friends and that Hollings meant no ill will.

What's in a name?

A school official in Washington County, Maryland, figures that his Williamsport Wildcats will go the way of the Poolesville Indians. Let us explain. On Tuesday, the Montgomery County, Maryland school board ordered the Poolesville High School to change its team name from Indians within a year because of complaints from the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs.

Well, now some Maryland residents fear the political correctness will run wild and the state next will target teams named after animals such as the Smithsburg Leopards and Hancock Panthers. School officials say they've already received several complaints, but The Washington Times quotes a spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as saying, "The group is vehemently opposed to the use of live animals as mascots, but PETA isn't going to play the name game."

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