Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Not Holding Back?

Florida Republican Senator Mel Martinez has long since dropped his hold on C. Boyden Gray's nomination to be the next U.S ambassador to the European Union. So have Colorado Democrat Ken Salazar and Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin. But Gray remains stalled in the Senate and both parties say it's because an unknown number of Democrats are maintaining their holds on his nomination.

It is a Senate custom that any senator can put the brakes on any nominee without giving their reasons and neither side is saying who's holding up the process or why. But Majority Leader Bill Frist doesn't seem concerned; he has yet to press Democrats on which party members are blocking Gray's nomination, which has been pending since July.

Permanent Fight

Liberal activists at Moveon.org have joined forces with big labor to transform the campaign that successfully fought President Bush's Social Security agenda into a permanent group to promote progressive causes. Americans United, formerly known as Americans United to Protect Social Security, is designed to counter the conservative Progress for America, which has worked to advance the President's proposals and Roll Call reports the group is receiving big bucks from MoveOn, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Keep Out

Canada's Prime Minister has warned U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins to stay out of Canadian politics after Wilkins warned candidates to cut back on their relentless criticism of Washington. Earlier this week, Wilkins said, "It may be smart election politics to thump your chest and constantly criticize your friend and your number one trading partner. But... all of us should hope it doesn't have a long-term impact on our relationship."

But Prime Minister Paul Martin, who has attacked the U.S. on everything from lumber and guns to Iraq and global warming, was unimpressed with Wilkins' warning, saying, "That our friends do not like what we say, well, c'est la vie"... which is French for "that's life." Martin adds, "I am not going to be dictated to as to the subjects I should raise."

Anti-Christian Party?

The Washington state Democratic Party has removed a parody of a popular Christian symbol from its official online store after critics accused the party of being "anti-Christian." The item added flames, a cross and the word "hypocrite" to the Christian fish often seen on the backs of cars and The Seattle Times reports that it was aimed at those who claim to be pro-life while also supporting the death penalty.

State Republicans say the flaming fish reflects the Democrats' hostility toward religious believers. But Washington Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt has apologized to anyone who was offended, calling the incident "embarrassing."

— FOX News' Aaron Bruns 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."