And now the most scintillating two minutes in television, the latest from the political grapevine.

When ABC News reported last night that the CIA had concluded that Usama bin Laden had escaped Afghanistan, probably by sea, and was by now out of the region altogether, the usually silent CIA responded in a most uncharacteristic way. A spokesperson telephoned other news organizations to say that the CIA had concluded no such thing. The spokesperson would not say what, if any, conclusions the agency had reached. ABC News, meanwhile, appeared to be sticking by its story, which was still being carried on the network's Web site, with no mention of a CIA denial.

And speaking of networks, PBS tonight begins airing a documentary on American conscientious objectors in World War II. Titled, The Good War and Those Who Refused To Fight It, the film, according to PBS, is "a story of personal courage, idealism and nonconformity...about men whose love of country could not extend to killing their fellow man." PBS adds, "Like today, during WWII many Americans felt that being opposed to war was cowardly and unpatriotic." But co-producer Rick Tejada-Flores, who himself refused to fight in Vietnam, said he was struck by the  "quiet heroism" of the pacifists who did the same in World War II.

A new poll of 151 Ivy League faculty members in the Social Sciences and Liberal arts has found an overwhelming preference for Democrats and their politics. The poll, by the Republican pollster Frank Luntz, found that 84 percent of the professors voted for Al Gore, that more of them thought Bill Clinton was the top pick for best president of the past 40 years, and 57 percent of them said they were Democrats, only 3 percent said they were Republicans. But Mary Burgan of the American Association of University Professors told the Washington Times the poll was based on too small a sample. Most professors, she said, are "somewhere near the center."

And the University of Judaism, in Los Angeles, is denying it paid Bill Clinton a record $200,000 for his speech there last night, as the <I>New York Post reported. A top official told the Los Angeles Times the fee was "in the neighborhood of $100,000." Clinton, by the way, told the cheering audience that terrorism is "the dark side of globalism" and American security requires easing the world's imbalance between rich and poor.