And now the most telling two minutes in television, the latest from the political grapevine:

Economy Gaining Strength?

Only three months ago, the White House forecast a federal deficit in excess of $450 billion this year, igniting a firestorm of criticism.

Today, officials at the Congressional Budget Office (search) estimated that the deficit number wouldn’t even reach $400 billion. Moreover, jobless claims dropped to their lowest level in 8 months.

OMB director Joshua Bolten says that an unexpected drop in spending has pushed the deficit projection down some $70 billion from the earlier estimates, though critics continue to point to the fact that the deficit will still be the highest ever recorded.

Mixed Messages?

Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) has said his state's Democrats have now gotten his message, but here is what some Bay Area Democrats are saying about him.

State Sen. John Vasconcellos of San Jose called him "a boob" and said electing him was a mistake. Vasconcellos also threatened to quit, saying, "If people want this actor to govern... they don't need or deserve me."

Senate Majority Leader John Burton of San Francisco said that if Schwarzenegger, "wants to take money away from aged, blind and disabled, or if he wants to take money from poor women and children: I don't think so."

And State Sen. Sheila Kuehl of Santa Monica, quoted in the Oakland Tribune, said she may boycott Schwarzenegger's State of the State address, adding, "What's this guy got to say to us about the state of the state? Nothing."

Temper Tantrum

Nine years ago, when the voters gave the Republicans control of the House of Representatives for the first time in more than 40 years, ABC News anchor Peter Jennings characterized the election as a, "temper tantrum," a remark for which he would later apologize.

In the Wednesday morning aftermath of the California recall election, ABC Correspondent  Linda Douglass reported that, "Schwarzenegger acknowledged that the recall campaign was the result of a, "statewide temper tantrum."

We have been unable to find any record of Schwarzenegger saying any such thing.

Governor-elect Schwarzenegger Misquoted

When Tom Brokaw asked Arnold Schwarzenegger two days before the recall election whether he denied charges of sexual harassment, Schwarzenegger responded, "no, not all."

But the Los Angeles Times quoted Schwarzenegger as answering "not at all," as if he were not denying any charges.

As we noted Tuesday, the L.A. Times apparently picked up the bad quote from a faulty NBC transcript.

NBC has since corrected the transcript, but the L.A. Times has yet to publish a correction of any kind.