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Mystery of Alan Keyes in GOP Debate

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Key Factor

Some — but not all — of the mystery has been resolved surrounding the surprise appearance of Alan Keyes in Wednesday's Republican debate in Iowa.

There were questions about why Keyes was allowed to participate — but Democrats Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel were barred from today's Democratic debate.

It turns out Keyes had two percent support in the Des Moines Register Iowa poll in October — surpassing the minimum requirement of one percent. But two of the other criteria are the establishment of a campaign office as of October first — and the employment of at least one full-time campaign staff member.

Neither Kucinich nor Gravel have done that — so they were ruled ineligible. But Republican sources say they cannot find a Keyes office in Iowa — and all of our efforts to track one down have failed as well.

Family Feud

The end-of-session crunch in Congress is leaving Democratic leaders bickering among themselves. The Washington Post reports House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel has accused Senate Democratic leaders of developing Stockholm syndrome — showing sympathy for their Republican captors by caving in on tax legislation.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey told Roll Call that he would make a decision on major funding legislation — "When I know how soon the Senate sells us out."

Meanwhile Senate leaders aren't taking this criticism lying down. Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the chamber floor recently — "I can't control Speaker Pelosi .. She runs the House with an iron hand."

Blame Game

Al Gore and others who blame humans for global warming often say climate change is responsible for much stronger hurricanes recently.

But now two oceanographers say that is not true. Gabriel Vecchi of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Brian Soden of the University of Miami publish their findings in today's issue of the science journal Nature.

They say the ocean's increased heat actually stabilizes the upper atmosphere — which hampers a storm's ability to form. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports the men say ocean warming was not the sole culprit behind the heavy storm seasons of 2004 and 2005 — and that other factors such as light wind shear contributed to hurricane power.

Other scientists disagree — and point to studies that say that the number of category four and five hurricanes has almost doubled since 1970.

Squeeze Play

And a follow-up to Tuesday's story about the University of Florida vice president in hot water for demanding an apology from students promoting a movie about radical Islam.

When the kids put up ads that said — "Radical Islam Wants You Dead" — Patricia Telles-Irvin sent an e-mail to the school's 50,000 students attacking the ad and the students who produced it. She backed off after being accused of suppressing free speech.
But The Gainesville Sun reports Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is not satisfied. He wants Telles-Irvin to specifically rescind the call for an apology — or admit she was wrong.

And the state assembly Republican leader is calling for Telles-Irvin to issue a public apology of her own — and for her to be reprimanded. Telles-Irvin said in a prepared statement Tuesday that her goal is to encourage dialogue and understanding, and that there will be additional discussion.

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