Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Newt Knows Best?

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is blaming President Bush for costing Republicans control of Congress... blasting his decision to replace Donald Rumsfeld after the election.

Gingrich told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the president should have announced the decision two weeks ago, saying "we would today control the Senate and probably have 10 to 15 more House seats."

Gingrich called the timing "exactly backwards," adding, "I hope the president will rethink how he engages the American people and how he communicates with candor."

Punishing President Bush?

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez thinks the thumping Democrats gave the GOP isn't nearly enough punishment for President Bush.

He's calling for "the most severe sentence this planet has to offer" against the man he calls a "genocidal president."

This as Venezuela's National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution demanding that President Bush explain what it calls the "self-inflicted attack on the World Trade Center."

Venezuela's Foreign Affairs Commission took a different tack— it is calling a government-sponsored exhibition showing President Bush dressed as a Nazi storm trooper "unfair".... Unfair to the Nazis. A spokesman calls Hitler "a babe in arms compared to Bush."

Racial Rhetoric

Black civil rights leaders in Atlanta say they don't understand the controversy surrounding a radio ad claiming a Republican candidate for the County Board of Commissioners would turn back the clock on equal rights.

In the ad, congressman John Lewis said electing Lee Morris, who is white, would be worse than "fighting off dogs and water hoses in the sixties,” while Mayor Shirley Franklin said the work of Martin Luther King would be lost. But Franklin is defending the ad — and Lewis denied that it contained "anything racially inflammatory at all," saying, "anyone who saw it as race-baiting failed to see the ad."

Nowhere but New York?

New York Congressman Charlie Rangel wants to use his party's new political clout to bring home the federal dollars he says his state deserves... telling The New York Times, "Mississippi gets more than their fair share back in federal money, but who the hell wants to live in Mississippi?"

But those words ran afoul of Mississippi Republican Chip Pickering who called Rangel's remarks "insults, slander and defamation" against Mississippians. Rangel now says he didn't mean to offend anyone... saying he just can't understand why everyone wouldn't want to live in New York.

—FOX News Channel's Martin Hill 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