Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Missing Votes

The six senators running for president have missed a total of 131 votes so far this year — about 17 percent — while they have been out campaigning.

The Politico reports there is no financial penalty for this — despite a law passed more than 150 years ago that required absent senators to be docked for each day missed. That's because senators slipped in an exemption for themselves two years ago — tucked into an appropriations bill. House members who miss votes are still technically on the hook for being penalized, but it is believed the law has rarely if ever been enforced.

If you're wondering how the candidates stack up: John McCain has missed the most Senate votes this year — 42 of 126 — 33 percent. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have missed the fewest: three apiece.

Recess Ramifications

Democrats upset with President Bush's recess appointments of three controversial picks for key federal positions are studying options for reversing the appointments or blocking them in the future.

Roll Call reports Democrats are considering using a rarely invoked legal requirement that the nominations be resubmitted within 40-days — setting up a possible Senate vote. They are also considering keeping the chamber in session pro forma during future recesses.

President Bush has made 167 recess appointments during his six-plus years in office. His father made 77 in four years and Bill Clinton made 139 in eight years.

New Threat?

The latest threat to planet Earth via climate change has been identified as — all those darn pine trees.

A National Academy of Sciences report says the pine forests of Europe, Siberia and Canada may contribute to global warming because they trap sunlight reflected from snow — making the Earth warmer.

Conventional wisdom is that trees help cool the Earth by absorbing carbon dioxide and giving off moisture that creates clouds. But the report says that is only true for tropical forests. It says some computer models suggest that cutting forests in higher altitudes may reduce global warming.

"Great Sin"

Pakistan's tourism minister says she fears for her safety — and that of her family — after radical Muslims pronounced her guilty of a "great sin" by hugging a man.

The minister apparently hugged a skydiving instructor after a charity parachute jump. Two clerics at Islamabad's Red Mosque called it "an illegitimate and forbidden act." They have demanded she be fired and forced to apologize publicly.

The Red Mosque has recently embarked on a Taliban-style anti-vice campaign and has been linked to militant groups.

—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