The Political Grapevine

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Casting Blame

In Sudan, the Minister of Agriculture has called the U.S. "the state of the devil," after reading what sounded like stunning revelations from California representative Ellen Tauscher (search) who mentioned in a committee hearing a 1962 nuclear test in "Sudan."

Sudanese officials, who seemed not to know about the test in their own country, immediately blamed the nuclear tests for causing cancer there and the Sudanese foreign minister called in the U.S. charge d'affaires (search) to explain. The explanation turned out to be pretty simple — Representative Tauscher never said Sudan, she said, "Sedan" — the code name for a nuclear test site in Nevada — a huge crater that is now a tourist attraction. Those who transcribed Tauscher's words thought she said Sudan, the country and its officials leapt at the chance to criticize the U.S.

Beef Over Exports

A Canadian parliament member in charge of improving relations with the United States has apologized for saying Canada should "embarrass the hell out of the Americans in front of other countries." Marlene Jennings (search) complained to a subcommittee on trade that the U.S. was holding up agreements on Canadian lumber and beef — and proposed taking out ads in foreign papers to criticize American members of Congress.

Conservative party members say Jennings should be fired for hurting Canada's chances of reaching an agreement with the U.S. on beef exports — one comparing Jennings' remarks to "poking someone in the eye and then asking them for a favor."

"Holiday" Spirit

Palm Beach, Florida (search) made headlines when city officials renamed all Christmas trees "holiday trees" last December. Now, some shopping malls in the city have decided to get rid of the Easter bunny (search). They're changing the name of Easter egg hunts to just plain "egg hunts" which will be presided over not by the Easter bunny, but by a "garden bunny."

TP Tax

A Florida lawmaker has proposed a 2-cent-per-roll tax on toilet paper to pay for wastewater treatment. And opponents had a field day poking fun at the idea. Republican Senate President Tom Lee (search) said he didn't think the bill would pass, but said "We'll be getting to the bottom of it real soon." House Speaker Allan Bense (search) says he's not wild about tax hikes, but that "we'll certainly let it go through the system." Democrats, though, say the bill has at least one good thing going for it — it's "pay-as-you-go."

Furniture Flap

Norway's prime minister says Swedish furniture giant IKEA (search) is guilty of sex discrimination because its instruction manuals only depict men. IKEA never shows women assembling furniture and the prime minister says, "There's no justification for it." But an IKEA spokesman says that it has a strong presence in Muslim countries and that using women in instruction manuals could offend Islamic customers.

— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report

With more than 35 years of journalism experience to draw from, Brit Hume currently serves as a senior political analyst for FOX News Channel (FNC) and contributes to all major political coverage. Hume also is regular panelist on FOX's weekly public affairs program, "FOX News Sunday" on Sundays at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET. Click here for more information on Brit Hume