Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
A liberal advocacy group plans to spend $8.5 million this year in an effort to keep President Bush's approval ratings down — and tarnish his legacy. Americans United for Change is a labor-funded organization. It says it will buy ads criticizing what it calls the president's failures in Iraq — the response to Hurricane Katrina — and failing to stop the mortgage crisis.
The group hopes to keep Mr. Bush from gaining any positive momentum that could help Republican candidates in this fall's election. And it wants to do whatever it can to negatively affect the president's legacy. The organization outlined its plans last week to representatives of about 30 liberal and labor organizations. It intends to air its first ads in advance of the president's State of the Union address Monday.
Some Democrats are worried that the ongoing fight between Barack Obama and the Clintons might divide the party, but it seems the issue has itself divided the party.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy — who supports Obama — has been critical of Bill Clinton for what he calls "glib cheap shots." "That's beneath the dignity of a former president," Leahy told The Washington Post. "He is not helping anyone, and certainly not helping the Democratic Party."
Senator Ted Kennedy and Congressman Rahm Emanuel have spoken to Mr. Clinton about his attacks on Obama.
But senator Barbara Boxer says she does not see the squabbling as a long-term problem. And fellow Democratic Senator Benjamin Cardin says, "It's a competitive campaign, good for the Democratic Party and good for our country."
The world's richest man says he is not worried about the U.S. economy falling into a prolonged slump. Microsoft founder Bill Gates tells a German newspaper that the severe turbulence on the global markets sparked by fears of an American recession will calm down — "The U.S. economy has been very strong in the last 10 to 15 years. Unfortunately I don't have a crystal ball to see into the next few years. But I am an optimist. The U.S. economy could remain strong in the next few years because technological progress will propel it."
And a story based on "The Three Little Pigs" has been excluded from a British government agency's awards competition because it could be offensive to Muslims. Media reports say the digital book called "Three Little Cowboy Builders" had already won a prize at another education awards competition.
But judges for awards supported by the government's technology agency for schools say — "the use of pigs raises cultural issues" and they — "could not recommend this product to the Muslim community." The judges also attacked the story for offending builders.
The book's creative director says the idea that using pigs in the story could be interpreted as racism is "like a slap in the face."
— 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.