And now some fresh pickings from the wartime grapevine.

Former President Jimmy Carter has criticized President Bush's use of the phrase "axis of evil." Speaking yesterday at an Emory University conference on terrorism, Carter called the statement  "overly simplistic and counterproductive." He says Mr. Bush's words seriously jeopardized progress made with North Korea, Iran and Iraq recently – and it will take years to repair the damage done by that statement. Carter, of course, was president when the Ayatollah Khomeini seized power in Iran – a development that prompted Carter's U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young to speculate that history eventually would come to regard Khomeini as quote "a saint."

TV evangelist Pat Robertson is also taking issue with President Bush, on the issue of whether Islam is a peaceful religion.  "It's just not," said Robertson on his program The 700 Club,  "...the Koran makes it very clear, if you see an infidel, you are to kill him."   Robertson said Muslims want to coexist "until they can control, dominate and then if need be destroy." The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee called the remarks "truly outrageous... It's a resurgent anti-Semitism with the word 'Muslims' instead of the word 'Jews.'"

Former White House chief-of-staff Erskine Bowles is running for the Senate in North Carolina. He frequently reminds voters that he worked in the White House, but seldom mentions that his boss was Bill Clinton. In a new campaign pamphlet, for instance, Bowles boasts that he helped balance the federal budget. The pamphlet does not include Bill Clinton's name.  That's probably a good move. Although Democrats outnumber Republicans in the Tarheel State, Clinton lost there in 1992 and 1996. Bowles told the Charlotte Observer he drew a line between the accomplishments of the Clinton White House and his former boss's personal failings.

And finally, Gary Condit's wife Carolyn has stood by her husband, right or wrong, but she's not similarly forgiving when it comes to the National Enquirer. She's suing the tabloid for libel and seeking $10 million in damages – all over a headline that accused her of verbally attacking Chandra Levy. The Enquirer  reported that Mrs. Condit had called her husband's apartment in Washington – and had verbally attacked Levy during a phone conversation just days before the former intern disappeared. Condit meanwhile is trying to woo California voters by promising that if elected, he will keep the Levy investigation alive. We are not making this up.