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

A new poll indicates that while President Bush has risen sharply in the estimation of key U.S. allies in Europe, people in those countries still don't think much of him, or of U.S. polices, especially in the Mideast. France is the clearest example. The poll, by the Pew Research Center, found 69 percent of Americans approve Mr. Bush's foreign policy, up from 45 percent last August. But only 32 percent in France approve, up from 16 percent. And French disapproval was especially strong — 63 percent on the Mideast, a reflection perhaps of French support for the Palestinians — 36 percent, over the Israelis, 19 percent. That, as you can see is the opposite of the U.S. sentiment on the issue.

Jesse Jackson's newly released tax forms for the year 2000 show a close correlation between the sources of his money and the companies he has threatened with boycotts or other harm. The Washington Times says such companies as Viacom, Bell Atlantic (now Verizon), and GTE, all gave to various Jackson enterprises, after he had threatened them. The paper says SBC Communications, whose merger with Ameritech Jackson supported, gave $500,000. And a firm called Blaylock & Partners, a firm Jackson helped get a contract with AT&T, gave $30,000, while AT&T gave $425,000. The Times said Jackson could not be reached for comment.

On the House floor today, freshman Democratic Congresswoman Betty McCollum of Minnesota was called upon to lead the daily pledge of allegiance. But she seemed to have a problem with the phrase "under God." Her staff insisted she has no problem about saying "under God," but, they explained that she just swallowed at that moment, and besides she was not originally scheduled to lead the pledge and she was still getting "some instruction" from the floor staff about where to stand and speak as that phrase came along.

And The New Republic, the venerable liberal political journal, says that the best presidential hope of the Democrats in 2004, is Rep. John McCain. The magazine says McCain "has co-sponsored virtually the entire domestic agenda of the Democratic Party." And it notes that McCain's top political adviser John Weaver says that apart from McCain, he now advises only democrats.