And now some fresh pickings from the political grapevine:

Texas Take-Off Tax

Texas Republicans prepared a semi-warm welcome for the 11 Senate Democrats who skipped the state in order to prevent a vote on a Republican-friendly state-redistricting plan.

Republicans have voted to suspend for now a previous law that imposed stiff fines on absent politicians. Under the statute, each Democrat would have had to pay $57,000 in fines, approximately $50,000 more than the politicians' annual government salary.

In addition, they would have lost access to their parking spots, post-office perks and state-funded cell phones; and their staffers wouldn't have been granted access to the Senate floor.

The Republicans say they'll waive the fines and restore Senate privileges…so long as Democrats behave themselves until the next legislative session begins…in 15 months.

Not all Democrats were amused. Sen. Frank Madla played the race card, calling the original punishment an example of "white supremacy."

‘LA LA Land’

California Gov. Gray Davis (search), confirming most Americans' suspicions that the Golden State is merely a vast version of the Star Wars bar, on Wednesday declared:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVIS: Date on earth and we…we have people from every planet on the earth in this state. We have the sons and daughters of every…of people from every planet…every country on earth in this state.

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In a related development, political activist Stephen Basset (search) wants politicians to reach out to a more diverse voting public by addressing the oft-ignored issue of... Extra Terrestrials (search).

Basset says that, "UFO disclosure" is an issue that resonates particularly well with potential voters, and he'll attempt to convince presidential hopefuls from both parties to address the UFO community next year at the 1st Annual Exo-politics Expo in Washington.

— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report