And now the most absorbing two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine.

Al Gore appears to be up and running for president, and has blasted President Bush's handling of the war on terrorism at a fund-raiser on New York's upper east side. The New York Observer quotes Gore as saying Mr. Bush's approach is to "speak loudly and carry a small stick." He was also critical on the Middle East, saying the peace process there is "like a bicycle. If it's not moving forward, it doesn't just stop, it falls down." As for his own service, Gore said he is "damn proud" of the Clinton administration. The event raised $200,000 for Gore's treasury.

Robert Kuttner, newspaper columnist, and co-editor of the liberal magazine The American Prospect, seems to have the opposite fear about President Bush – too big a stick. Kuttner writes in today's Boston Globe that he hasn't been so scared since the Cuban missile crisis. Partly it's the fear of terrorist attack, but, he writes, "whether it's an ill-specified axis of evil, a decision to make tactical nuclear weapons thinkable,  a domestic shadow government or deliberately leaked plans to attack Iraq, George W. Bush in his own way is as frightening as Al Qaeda."

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says a Navy employee under investigation for using a government credit card to charge $12,000 worth of personal items has moved to an important financial management office with the Army. Grassley says the employee, Tanya Mays, has never been disciplined for the credit card purchases, which included a computer, kitchen appliance, clothes and food. Nor has she been asked to pay the money back. Now, says Grassley, she will be in charge of something called "cash integration." The Army had no immediate comment.

Roger Clinton, the former president's half-brother, lobbied his brother for pardons or favors for at least a dozen people and collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for doing so. The Los Angeles Times says a House committee has concluded that Roger Clinton was far more deeply involved in pardons and favors than he has previously acknowledged, and that his brother encouraged his activities. The committee also reports that Hillary Clinton's brother Hugh, who helped get a commutation for convicted cocaine dealer Carlos Vignali, has returned less than a fourth of the $204,000 he was paid for doing so.